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Inherit The Windbag: Day 9

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 17, 2010 2:00PM

Another day in the trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother Rob opened where it left off Tuesday, with Joseph Aramanda still on the stand. Aramanda testified that Tony Rezko approached him to take a job as a middle man for him, handling fees from the Teachers Retirement Systems and help split the fees between the "inner circle": Rezko, Monk, Kelly, and Blago, backing up the testimony of Lon Monk. Under cross-examination, Aramanda brought up President Obama, mentioning the $10,000 contribution to Obama's U.S. Senate fund in 2004 he made at the request of Rezko, money that the prosecution says came from an illegal $250,000 "finder's fee" Aramanda got from helping Rezko with the teacher's pension deal. But, as Jeff Coen points out for the Tribune, the line of questioning from the defense is clear: this is Rezko's fault, not Blago's.

Following Aramanda was Shari Schindler, a 23-year vet of the IRS and known financial expert, described by the Sun-Times as, "the expert who untangles the financial mess associated with complicated cases." Schnidler testified to payments coming and going from Rezko's accounts, as well as deposits to accounts for Christopher Kelly and River Realty, Patti Blagojevich's business. During cross-examination, questioning from Team Blago attorney Aaron Goldstein was so obvious that it prompted another lecture from Judge Zagel on the different lines of questioning the defense was allowed. After Schindler, the day concluded with Joseph Cari, former Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman, on the stand; Cari had served on the 2000 Presidential election campaign for Al Gore. Cari, who pleaded guilty to an extortion case in 2005 involving Teachers Retirement Systems and testified in the 2008 Rezko trial, began detailing how Stuart Levine, a then-board member of TRS, helped steer $35 million in investments to a firm Cari was working for at the time. He also testified about a meeting he had with Levine, Kelly, and Rod on Levine's prviate jet in 2003 in which Blago expressed his presidential aspirations. The day ended with Cari still on the stand and questioning of him will be where the trial picks up this morning.

Of course, there was still more news outside the courtroom as prosecutors asked Judge Zagel to gag Blagojevich after Rod's outburst about Lon Monk following Tuesday's testimony. Judge Zagel held off on a ruling but said he'll revisit the issue next week after giving the two sides time to hash out ground rules for what could be said to reporters in public. Not that it stopped Rod from talking...

Blagojevich exits Dirksen 6/16/10 from Chicago News Cooperative on Vimeo.