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Inherit The Windbag, Day 8: More Monk, Kickbacks, And Rezko

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 16, 2010 2:00PM

Day 8 of the Blago Trial opened with the continuing cross-examination of former Blago pal Lon Monk by Blago attorney Sam Adam, Jr. An animated Adam grilled Monk about specifics to plans Monk alleged he, Tony Rezko, and the ex-governor had that involved illegal scheming and plotting. When Monk couldn't produce those specifics, Adam pounced.

What was the first corrupt plan that fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko had listed, Adam demanded. Monk said he couldn't recall.

So the meeting was the first time in his adult life Monk had agreed to commit a political crime, yet "you can't remember the first one?" Adam asked incredulously. Offered Monk: "They were just ideas."

"And you can't even tell us the first one?" Adam pressed again.

"I don't remember," Monk acknowledged.

Adam also went after Monk's deal with prosecutors, an attempt to undermine Monk's credibility, asking Monk with a raised voice, "You want your deal, don't you, Mr. Monk? You want your deal with the government to go through. And you have to come in here and say what their version of the truth is. The truth is the way they see it!"

Adam's grilling of Monk ended halfway through the day, earlier than anticipated, and the next witness, financial expert David Abel, testified on sitting in on a meeting attended by Blagojevich and Christopher Kelly that involved the state's 2003 $10 billion pension-obligation bond deal. After Abel, the prosecution called Vincent Mazzaro, former member of the municipal bond department at Bear Sterns. Prosecutors allege that the investment firm was chosen because Blago and Kelly had an "insider" - Robert Kjellander, who has denied any wrongdoing - who would kick back money from the deal to Tony Rezko, as much as $500,000, that was to be split between Rezko, Blago, Monk, and Kelly.

But the day wasn't done yet.

Next on the stand was Joseph Aramanda, a friend of Rezko's, who was to testify on a complicated (and downright convoluted) loan scheme he was part of that involved the kickback money Rezko received from Kjellander. The loan, which Aramanda said he had been led to believe by Rezko would help his failing pizza business, was instead rerouted to help pay off Rezko debts. The Sun-Times also reports that $10,000 Aramanda redistributed as a middle man for Rezko was a donation to Barack Obama's 2004 U.S. Senate campaign fund, money Obama said he didn't know was tainted and was later donated to charity. Stuart Levine also came in to play later in the day when testimony turned to Aramanda's role as "middle man" for Rezko's alleged scheme involving the Teachers' Retirement System.

And with that, the day was done and Blago spoke to the media, saying of Monk's testimony, "As my old friend was testifying and saying things that he knew weren't true, I couldn't help but think about times that we spent together. I couldn't help but think about his mother and his father, especially his father, and the shame that his father probably feels."

Blagojevich Talks to Cameras, June 15, 2010 from Chicago News Cooperative on Vimeo.

Ouch. Sanctimonious declarations aside, the trial continues today with more testimony from Aramanda as well as a few others. For added fun, exhibits and wire tap calls from the trial have been released. You can check them out via the Dept. of Justice or at the Tribune's handy-dandy exhibit page.