FILE - In this June 8, 2010 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, arrives at the Federal Court building with his wife Patti, for his federal corruption trial in Chicago. A defense theme at Blagojevich's racketeering and fraud trial is that he simply didn't know what was going on all around him. Experts say that strategy can work with juries but also present tricky problems. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)whitake
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What to expect today: More testimony on how Blagojevich tried to trade state contracts for campaign contributions. Gerry Krozel, former chairman of the Illinois division of the American Concrete Pavement Association and a vice president with concrete producer Prairie Material Sales Inc., continues his testimony from Tuesday when he said Blago promised billions in state-funded infrastructure work in exchange for fund-raising.
Attorneys for former governor Rod Blagojevich have filed still another motion for a mistrial, as the proceedings against him enter their second month.
Previous mistrial demands have been "filed and entered" by Judge James Zagel, meaning the court takes note of them, but that testimony will continue.
Former Illinois Roadbuilders chief Gerald Krozel listened today as a tape was played of a conversation he had with Rod Blagojevich Oct. 22, 2008.
Krozel had already testified that he felt pressure from Blagojevich to raise campaign cash, in exchange for a massive expansion of a construction program planned for the Illinois Tollway.
"We've just got this end of year deadline," a chipper Blagojevich said on the call. "The rules change after January 1," he says, speaking of a new law which would severely restrict contributions from state contractors.
Blagojevich then speaks about the tollway program. "We've got something going," he says. "And there's going to be more!"
After that, Blagojevich shifted back to his campaign fund. "The good news for you guys--which is bad news for us--after the first of the year, we won't be able to bully you guys!"
Krozel said he had no intention of raising money for Blagojevich, but was afraid to tell him that. "He was the governor," Krozel said. "It was his idea for the program. I was afraid it could be the end of the program."
Krozel's understanding of the entire episode? "The tollway was connected to my campaign contributions!"
Out of the presence of the jury, Judge James Zagel denied two defense motions for mistrial. In doing so, he told the Blagojevich lawyers that some of their lines of cross examination were a "needless waste of time."
On cross examination, during a heated exchange, Blagojevich lawyer Aaron Goldstein attempted to punch holes in Krozel's testimony.
"You never felt pressure from Rod Blagojevich, DID you?"
"I sure did! When somebody asks you continually about money, you feel pressure!"
Asked if Blagojevich ever made a direct link that if Krozel raised money and he would expand the tollway program, Krozel said, "It was obvious!"
"Did he ever say it?"
"He didn't say it. It was obvious!"
Asked why he never told the FBI about such allegations during his first meeting with them the day Blagojevich was arrested, he said, "I was afraid!"
Jurors in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial have been presented with still another odd example of Patti Blagojevich's real estate dealings.
Chicago developer Sean Conlon testified that he made a sale of two floors of his building at 1101 W. Lake Street to tenant Brian Hynes. He said Hynes never had a real estate agent or broker, and that they agreed on a price of $600,000 for one floor, and $700,000 for the other one.
Contracts were signed, but before the closing, Conlon said Hynes called to say that the contracts needed to be amended to include a broker's name: Patti Blagojevich. Conlon said he had never met Mrs. Blagojevich, that she did no work on the project, and that he had never heard of her company, River Realty.
Baffled by the change, Conlon said he told Hynes there was no provision in the sale price for a broker's commission. He testified that Hynes then asked him to actually increase the price he would pay, to cover the new costs associated with paying Patti Blagojevich a fee.
Odder still, Conlon said, was what happened a week or so later. He said Hynes called again, asking that the contracts be amended again, to remove Patti's name, replacing it with that of Blagojevich pal Tony Rezko.
As testimony continues about a realty project in which she was involved, Patti Blagojevich remains out of the courtroom because she is slated to be a witness in the case.
She is knitting.
In a motion filed today, Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich tipped their defense strategy hand and said they will establish that the former governor "did not honestly, and in good faith, believe his acts and conduct, nor his intent, were illegal."
They say Blagojevich will prove that through his own testimony and though testimony of people who gave him advice, including his lawyers. Read the full story here.
In his final days ... The intrigue around Rod Blagojevich was in high gear.
Former state commerce official Rajinder Bedi testified that he was present at a meeting with Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior and Indian businessman Raghu Nayek, in October of 2008, where Nayek promised to raise a million dollars for Blagojevich, if he would appoint Jackson to the Barack Obama Senate seat. Read the full account here.
When the offer was formally presented to Rob Blagojevich that same day, he dismissed it out of hand.....but the governor himself brought the offer up, somewhat dismissively on the telephone just a few days later.
Wednesday Morning Blagojevich Coverage:
Blago lends credence to "Hicks in Suits" theory. [Chicago Argus]
Rod can look forward to a whole new wardrobe in prison. [Chicago Tribune]
Former governor thought big money donors were "bullSh**ters" [Ward Room]
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Thursday, June 24 Journal -- "Appreciation? F*** them!"
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*** WEEK ONE ***