Inherit The Windbag: The Prosecution Rests
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 14, 2010 2:45PM
The prosecution rested their case against former governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday, more than a month ahead of schedule, after two last witnesses. Judge Zagel also granted the defense's request to adjourn until Monday after they claimed the early end to the prosecution's case has left them in a lurch because they were preparing as if they'd have a few more weeks. In a hearing yesterday, the defense showed their hand as to what we can expect when the trial picks back up again next week.
The day began with FBI agent Daniel Cain on the stand as the jurors viewed both of Blago's swearing-in ceremonies and Blago's legal bills. Former Blago chief-of-staff, lobbyist, and friend John Wyma next took the stand for the prosecution, backing up testimony by previous witnesses as to Blago's attempts to hold up funding for the Academy for Urban School Leadership as well as shenanigans with the Teacher's Retirement System. When pressed about pushing Rahm for fundraising, Wyma says he didn't do it because it would look bad to get Rahm to do so while he was also trying to get the school's money from the state. There was also talk of Tollway scheming.
Next, Wyma detailed why he turned on Blago, agreeing to wear a wire for the Feds. On the stand yesterday, he said, “I was increasingly alarmed about the level of aggressiveness that the fundraising had taken on and it made me uncomfortable." He was referencing the governor's (and Brother Rob's) attempts to get $50,000 from Children's Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon in exchange for signing a bill that would up the hospital's reimbursement rates from the state.
Wyma testified to a phone call he received from Rahm shortly after the 2008 elections that encouraged Blago to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat and how this led to discussions with Blago adviser Doug Scofield who floated the idea of a cabinet post for Blago. The defense created plenty of drama, though, when, in a conference away from jurors, they accused Wyma of taking a bribe, something Judge Zagel dismissed. It came in the midst of their attacking Wyma's lobbying success.
The day wrapped up with one last witness: Children's Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon, who testified to the pressure he felt from Blago & Co. to hand over cash in exchange for the passage of the aforementioned bill, saying, "I felt threatened, I felt at risk and I felt a little angry," he said. "I felt the commitment could be rescinded." On cross, the defense tried to show that there was never officially a quid-pro-quo agreement and Magoon admitted that the Hospital did get its money, albeit several months later.