Jontel Kassidy, Senior Capital Correspondent
While commenting on Blago’s prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald repeated what has become for him a common theme: Illinois citizens are responsible for stopping corruption by reporting it to the authorities.
In the longer video of his comments aired by NBC News Chicago, in response to a reporter’s question (1:16 into the clip), Fitz says (beginning at 1:34) that there needs to “…be a change in the public’s attitude. People seem resigned to corruption at times and…they’re afraid to say ‘no’ when someone in power asks them for something they shouldn’t. The people in power should be afraid to ask.”
So, Fitz’s solution is for citizens who are approached to give cash, benefits and favors in exchange for some consideration by corrupt officials, should run and tell the authorities – the federal, state, county and local police, and the various prosecutorial agencies.
That’s The Fitz’s Solution. It has several weaknesses.
1. To whom do citizens report corruption when their trust in the authorities is – to be kind – less than complete?
It’s an exaggerated comparison, but what were the consequences to citizens who reported corruption in East Germany to the Stasi? Only if the corruption wasn’t, in some way, sanctioned by the state, were the consequences anything but negative to the citizen.
2. Much of the corruption in Illinois pay-to-play shakedowns happens at a small business level. A three-trucks plumbing contractor submits a bid on a public housing project. The sub-contractor is told that a modest political donation to a particular politician would considerably enhance his chances of being awarded the contract. Suppose it’s a federally funded project.
Is the States’ Attorney’s office going to launch an investigation after the Plumbing contractor reports the shakedown? When billions are involved, what resources will be used to address, say, an alleged $3,000 bribe? Garden variety graft, events that don’t reach the level of the $14 billion that Blago cost the taxpayers of Illinois, is so widespread that there just aren’t enough policing and prosecutorial resources to stem a crime wave like that underway in Illinois.
3. In a culture steeped in corruption like Crook County, kickbacks and greased palms have been going on for so long, so successfully, and with such impunity that Fitz’s suggestion that the authorizes are ready to aggressively prosecute the crooks that citizens report is flat goofy.
The “change of attitude” Fitz’s preaches has to start with the agencies tasked to enforce laws.
To blame the people is to blame the victims.
The Fitz Solution is like saying that the people of Russia are responsible for the corruption of the Putin regime. They voted him in, after all.
That the Jews in 1933 Germany were responsible for the horror the Nazis delivered on them. They should have reported the injustices to the German Courts.
That innocent Mexican civilians are responsible for the violence of the drug traffickers along the border. After all, the violence couldn’t happen without the victims’ complicity (and, in some cases, that of the U.S. Department of Justice for selling guns to the cartels!).
It’s patently absurd when a high profile “crime fighter” – or the “Exterminator,” as John Kass calls him – blames the victims.
Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator
The Jimmy Hoffa of federal prisoners may be getting ready to finally surface, in the flesh. Talk of Tony Rezko’s imminent sentencing is building. Suppose that means anything, this time?
After 3½ years of self-imposed incarceration, somewhere on the planet, he’s about to surface, according to the Chicago Tribune. According to another source, Tony “has spent much of his more than 3½ years in jail in solitary, rarely getting fresh air and subject to a diet that has resulted in him losing 80 pounds, according to a defense filing unsealed Thursday.” Poor Tony. He’s been Steve McQueen in the 1973 movie Papillon.
Paa-leese. We’re supposed to believe that Tony has been doing hard time at the…well, where has he been all this hard time? On a military base in Wisconsin playing golf in a light disguise four times a week? Indoor tennis on rainy days? And where is he now? When will those relentless investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times be able to ask him their piercing interrogatives?
Tony’s attorneys want him sentences to time served. (Where was that again?)
Patrick Fitzgerald’s office wants him sentenced to from 11-15 years because – get ready for this – he failed to cooperate with prosecutors. That’s why, we’re to believe, Tony wasn’t called as a witness in the Blago trial. After 3½ years, the U.S. Attorney finally decided that Tony hasn’t cooperated. Geeze, Louise. Buying that requires…a willing suspension of disbelief. (The Tribune’s John Kass will buy it, though. For him, Fitzgerald is the Great Exterminator.)
Sentencing by U.S. Judge Amy St. Eve is set, yet again, for Nov. 22. Waiting for St. Eve to sentence Tony is like waiting for Gogot. Birthdays pass while waiting. Wanna bet it’ll be postponed again?
But what if it isn’t postponed? Will her Honor throw the book at Tony? Or, sentence him to time served. Or, maybe 4 months in a federal pen where, for the 3 months he has to put in, he can work on his backhand tennis return.
The best way to watch all this is to pull up an easy chair, get a bag of popcorn and enjoy the show. Cause it’s all theatre, folks. Tony’s friend Obama is going to pardon him eventually anyway. After all the money Tony passed his way, Tony deserves some executive clemency. Tony’s mentioned he expects a pardon to two former associates.
Aretha Franklin asked the relevant question about all this…
Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
The first sentence in Part 1 of this series asked this:
“Is the United States Attorney for the Northeastern District of Illinois an intrepid crime fighter, as he’s typically portrayed by most of the Chicago and national media? Or, is the legend of a modern day Untouchable Elliott Ness largely a media-created myth?”
What followed made a case that the Untouchable image of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is largely a myth.
As to circumstantial evidence:
“It means that existence of principal facts is only inferred from circumstances. Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Lonas, 225 Ky. 717, 75 S W.2d 348, 350.
When the existence of the principal fact is deduced from evidentiary by a process of probably reasoning, the evidence and proof as said to be presumptive. Best, Pres. 246; Id. 12. All presumptive evidence is circumstantial because necessarily derived from or made up of circumstances, but all circumstantial evidence is not presumptive. Burrill.
The proof of various facts or circumstances which usually attend the main fact in dispute, and therefore tend to prove its existence, or to sustain, by their consistency, the hypothesis claimed. Or as otherwise defined, it consists in reasoning from facts which are known or proved to establish such as are conjectured to exist.” (p. 309, Black’s Law Dictionary, Fourth Edition)
So, what are the facts and circumstances that we know that collectively tend to prove, or sustain by their consistency, the existence of the hypothesis that Patrick Fitzgerald is a politically-driven, not jurisprudence-driven, prosecutor whose image as an intrepid, unbiased crime fighter is a media-created fabrication?
Here are a few headlines from Parts 1-9:
Fitzgerald acknowledged that someone leaked information to the Chicago Tribune, via a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, while the reporter, John Chase, sat mute in the front row of the news conference where the arrest of Blago was described as an effort to stop a crime spree. (Chase has told a source known to this writer that he would not identify who leaked him the information on First Amendment grounds.)
In fact, (1) Blago’s crime spree had, with Fitzgerald’s knowledge, been going on for several years. (2) Chase has not been called to account for tipping off Blago that his conversations were being recorded by the feds. (3) Eric Holder’s Department of Selective Justice has taken no steps – like that taken by Fitzgerald when he jailed Judith Miller of the New York Times in the Valerie Plame Case – to force Chase to reveal the source of the leak. And, (4) Fitz’s demeanor in discussing the leak in a press conference can be accurately described as disinterested.
The urgency to arrest Blago was manufactured out of whole cloth. The leak had to originate out of the DoJ. And, the closest outlet for the DoJ to the Chicago Tribune is Fitzgerald’s office. You connect the dots.
In retrospect, we know now that Richard Armitage was the confessed leaker in the Valerie Plame Case. We also know that Fitzgerald knew of Armitage’s confession before undertaking a long and costly investigation that convicted a key staff member of Vice President Cheney of a crime not connected to the Plame leak. And, that this media event, upon which the foundation of the Untouchable myth was built by the main stream media, was politically-driven.
The Plame “investigation” boiled down to a surrogate WWF-like wrestling match between two Big Beltway Boys: Armitage representing Powell – Libby for Cheney. With Fitzgerald as the biased referee. And, it will be so chronicled by unbiased historians in the future.
The arrest of Blago was timed, not to stop a crime spree, or the selling of a Senate seat – since the latter notion is built on the myth that, once Blago got paid for appointing someone, the act was immediate and irrevocable. The arrest was timed to save Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr., from criminal prosecution for bribing a governor in order to receive a Senate appointment. Connect the dots. It was about saving J.J., Junior.
The Mole was planted by the DoJ to contribute to building a case against Tony Rezko in order to (a) help scuttle Blago – who has his own self-destructive gene – and, (b)protect the image of Barack Obama as a Chicago politician untarnished by association with the likes of a Tony Rezko.
Getting Tony out of the way was necessary to hiding his relationship to Barack. And, keeping him sequestered at an undisclosed location was necessary to remove him from access to the media. But perhaps even more importantly, Rezko was never called as a witness in either Blago trial, yet he was among Dead Meat’s leading extortionists. All part of concealing Barack Obama’s involvement in Illinois Play to Play.
By its general passivity, the Chicago media have been complicit in hiding of Rezko. After all, Obama was their guy, too.
In the end, Tony will be sentenced to time voluntarily served – wherever that was – and eventually be pardoned by his longtime friend and financial benefactor, Barack. (Remember, Eric Holder facilitated the pardoning of Marc Rich.)
The Mole was a big winner in all this. He never appeared in court to testify against Rezko, since his appearance might have led to testimony as to Rezko’s long financial support of the young Illinois, and then U.S., Senator. The Mole is on record as having witnessed the two together in a much closer relationship than Obama has ever admitted. For his work, the Mole made out like a bandit. New name. New career. New wealth. In a New Town.
In a second Obama administration, Fitzgerald will be rewarded by being appointed the next FBI Director. Or, maybe even soon, he’ll get Holder’s job, if Eric’s connections to Fast & Furious sink him.
This is a circumstantial case. But remember Fitz’s words: “I think people need to understand we won't be afraid to take strong circumstantial cases into court."
To conclude: Three public entities head the list of those responsible for putting Barack Obama in the White House.
- The Chicago Tribune, the Sun Times, and the entire Chicago TV media,, for selectively withholding information concerning Obama’s past in Chicago.
- Former Tribune political reporter and consultant to Blago during his Congressional campaigns – David Axelrod. And, the…
- U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.
This story is far from over.
Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Exterminator’s Catch & Release Program (Part 9)
Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
Is the result of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s ten-year, crime-fighting crusade in Illinois the near extermination of corruption? Or, has it been more about trapping a few big bugs and spraying a catch-and-release treatment on them?
In a March 17, 2011 Chicago Tribune article by John Kass entitled “If Fitzgerald goes to Washington, will political cockroaches like Blagojevich multiply?” Kass bemoans the future of Chicago if Patrick Fitzgerald is eventually appointed Director of the FBI. Kass wrote, “If the best exterminator leaves town, what will happen to all those political cockroaches?” (Answer: Dear John, They’ll continue as if nothing’s changed, cause nothing has.)
Kass is among the Chicago media types who've succumbed to Fitz idolization driven, in part, by the eventual conviction of Dead Meat at the hands of the Exterminator. And so Fitz stands watch alone today, in his hands-on-hips-Superman-stance, along that thin line that separates law-and-order from Illinois’ Pay-to-Play.
So, OMG! If the Exterminator moves to Washington, D.C., what will stop the proliferation of other political cockroaches, like Dead Meat? Kass asks. (It’s hard to tell when Kass is being serious versus flippant, since his writing style aims to tease, not confront. It’s both a literary niche, and a survival technique. If you really don’t want to, you don’t have to take him seriously.)
If you were reading Kass’ piece on Mars, you’d think the Exterminator had pretty much wiped out corruption in the Land of Lincoln, Crook County, and the City that Capone built.
Such is the power of the myth of the Intrepid Crime Fighter. Question is: How does it match with reality? In the ten years the Exterminator has prowled the Windy City, spraying for cockroaches, has there been any substantive reduction in their numbers and impact? Well, lets’ do a body count and see.
The Chicago Sun Times, which doesn’t have quite the simpatico relationship with Fitz that the Trib has, recently catalogued the cockroaches trapped in Operation Board Games. Here’s a short list:
- Stuart P. Levine, Pleaded guilty in October 2006 (that’s like 5 years ago) of masterminding extortion schemes and skimming “millions from construction deals the school [Chicago Medical School] gave to Jacob Kiferbaum.” Stu awaits sentencing.
- Jacob Kiferbaum, Pleaded guilty November 2007 (a mere 4 years ago) of participating in Levine’s schemes. Jake awaits sentencing
- John Glennon, Pleaded guilty November 2007 of covering up for Levine and Kiferbaum. John awaits sentencing. (Is there a trend here?)
- Steven Loren, Pleaded guilty September 2007 “in the attempted extortion of an investment firm that sought business from the teacher-pension fund.” Steve awaits sentencing.
- Tony Rezko, Convicted June 2008. Volunteered to be incarcerated. Disappeared down the Federal Rabbit Hole and hasn’t yet surfaced. Tony has told associates that he expects his friend Barack to eventually pardon him. Anyone want to bet against that?
- Ali Ata, Pleaded guilty April 2008 to not reporting $1.2 million in income from a Rezko deal, for lying to the FBI, and, as a bonus, admitted he got a well-paying state job at the Illinois Finance Authority from Rezko. Ali awaits sentencing.
- Abdelhamid Chaib, Pleaded guilty July 2010 of interfering “with the administration of internal revenue laws” in a Rezko business transaction. A.C. was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $50K fine.
- John Harris, Pleaded guilty October 2009 of helping Dead Meat try to sell Barack’s Senate seat. Another John awaits sentencing.
- Alonzo “Lon” Monk, Pleaded guilty October 2009 of mail fraud and scheming with Dead Meat to “get rich off state deals and split the money with Rezko and Kelly.” Lon awaits sentencing. What a surprise!
- Anita Mahajan, Sentenced to four years of probation in August 2011 and, as the Trib reported, “ordered to pay $200,000 in fines and restitution Monday after pleading guilty to billing the state for drug tests her company never performed.” She over-billed the state $2.1 million. “Anita Mahajan, 60, the wife of a major Blagojevich fundraiser, dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and apologized as she stood before Judge James Obbish to plead guilty to a reduced count of theft of $99,900.” You’d cry, too, if you got off so light for stealing two-mil from Illinois taxpayers.
One more not mentioned by the Sun Times…
- Joseph Cari, Pleads guilty in September 2005 of involvement in an extortion scheme that aimed to steer state pension business to companies in exchange for campaign contributions to a public official described in court docs as “Public official A [as in Dead Meat].” In August 2011, Joe – a close friend of Joe Biden – was sentenced to three years of…wait for it…wait for it…yes, pro-ba-tion. Oh, the state pension fund was for school teachers.
Rezko’s sentencing is pending. Anyone want to bet against him being sentenced to time served (Where?) and three years of probation?
It’s all part of the Exterminator’s Catch & Release Program for the Cockroaches.
Hat tip: Chicago news humorist John Kass. He’s such a kidder.
Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? A Fitz Question for the Chicago Media (Part 8)
Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
When faced with an opportunity to display their professional inquisitive prowess, reporters from the Chicago dailies generally like to wind-up and lob softball questions to Fitz.
So, maybe they’d welcome a little help framing their queries. Here’s a couple for them…
First a little background: Jack Lavin is Governor Pat Quinn’s Chief of Staff these days. Once upon a time, he served as Blagojevich's director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Tony Rezko recommended him to Dead Meat for the job. Before that, he was Chief Financial Officer of Rezko Enterprises. That means he handled Tony’s money. Countin’ it. Movin’ it. That sort of thing. (Smile for the camera, Jack.)
He’s given some of his own money – a little over $20 grand – to Democrat politicians (much of it to Obama, but also $2K to Jesse Jackson Junior, and $2K to Sen. Barbara Boxer), all through the Big Bundler hisownself, Tony. Hey, not a thing wrong with that.
Given Jack’s past starring role in Rezko Enterprises, maybe some enterprising Chicago reporter might ask Fitz this question:
“Is there any evidence to suggest that, while he was Rezko’s chief bean counter, Jack Lavin moved a $3,000,000 line item from the Panda Restaurant operated by Tony over into his Papa John’s Pizza books in order to help get a loan from GE Capital?”
And then, as a follow-up:
“Well, if you can’t answer that question, or won’t, then who kept Rezko’s second set of books for his Papa John’s Pizza store? And why have we never heard about that?”
Hat tip: C. Mc.