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Judge names Blagojevich in corruption case

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After months of speculation, a revelation in the political corruption case against Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko: a judge has named Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as "public official A."

The governor had repeatedly denied he was the unnamed official in the Rezko court documents. Governor Blagojevich has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

According to Judge Amy St. Eve, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is the public official named in Tony Rezko's federal indictment for whom Rezko tried to extort a $1.5 million campaign donation. The money was demanded from a financier who was trying to get state business. The judge's revelation contradicts what the governor has led the public to believe for the past 17 months.

"There isn't even a suggestion in that indictment that I had any knowledge whatsoever of any wrongdoing," said Blagojevich, October 12, 2006.

The date was October 12th, 2006. Governor Rod Blagojevich was distancing himself from businessman Tony Rezko. Rezko was indicted earlier that day on corruption charges, including trying to extort money from Chicago movie producer and financier Tom Rosenberg, who was trying to get a contract to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in state pension funds.

Court documents allege that Rezko, who himself had donated tens of thousands of dollars to Blagojevich campaigns, used his influence to stack state boards and commissions. And that he worked with indicted republican party fundraiser Stuart Levine to shake down investment firms and other companies who wanted state business.

"If these allegations are true, he betrayed my trust and he lied to me and deceived me. But a lot more important than that, he violated a public trust," said in 2006.

During a pre-trial ruling in the Rezko case, Judge St. Eve did not suggest that Blagojevich was aware of the alleged extortion attempt. The governor, so far, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

In a faxed statement Tuesday morning, a Blagojevich spokeswoman said, "We don't know anything about the conversation described in the document. The governor was never involved in such a conversation...No contributions were ever received from Capri Capital," Tom Rosenberg's company.

Jury selection in Rezko's trial is set to begin next Monday, March 3. As far as we know, the governor's name does not appear on either side's witness list, but clearly the name Rod Blagojevich will come up repeatedly during this trial.

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