16Sep/120

“Golden,” the whitewashing of a Department of Justice crime spree

Share

Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois PayToPlay & Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Chicago Tribune reporters Jeff Coen and John Chase wrote a 486-pages book that packs tedious and  mundane details about former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s life, from birth to prison, around one key chapter that documents the role of former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in leaking information about his  investigation of the ex-governor known nationwide as “Blago”.

 

The whitewash begins on the second page of the foreword entitled “Authors Note”: “We quote heavily from the recordings that federal agents made on phones used by the governor and others. All of those quotes come from transcripts of those phone conversations or the recordings themselves. We are grateful to those who provided case material that was outside of the public record.” (For ease of reading, we will italicize all quotations from the book.)

 

Those persons “who provided case material that was outside of the public record” remain unidentified throughout the book. But it soon becomes clear where they worked.

 

In an article written by Ernie Souchak posted on this website last September 14, we noted how the judge’s protective order, covering the  transcripts of Blago’s phone conversations, stipulated that nothing prohibited Blago and his lawyers from telling his version of those recorded conversations. Blago and his attorneys were, though, ordered not to disseminate the transcripts that the feds gave them. Only the feds had permission to do that.

 

So, apparently, Coen/Chase secured those transcripts and recordings mentioned in the “Authors’ Note from the feds. Here’s a question: Why was the information given to them?

 

Hold that thought.

 

The problem for the book’s core narrative – the arrest, trial and conviction of Blago – unfolds in Chapter 14 (pp. 257-295) entitled “I’ve got this thing…”

 

Background  

 

On October 16, 2011, we concluded a ten-article series concerning U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, which first posted here in on September 19, 2011, with this summary:

 

So, what are the facts and circumstances that we know that collectively tend to prove, or sustain by their consistencythe 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.

Chapter 14 – The Whitewash

 

The narrative here is significant, not just for what it reveals, but more for what it conceals.

 

The authors do not reveal the source for the information that Chase telephonically conveyed to Blago’s Spokesman, Lucio Guerrero, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Friday, December 4, 2008, namely, that the feds were listening in on Blago’s phone conversations.  

 

Consequently, this question remains unanswered: Who leaked the information that Blago’s phone conversations were being wiretapped by the feds to the Tribune and ChasePlus, why was that revelation leaked to the paper?

 

Then, why did Fitzgerald show no interest in tracking down the leaker?

 

We’re no closer today to answers to those questions after the 486 pages of whitewash.

 

Now, for the information in Chapter 14 that substantiates our October 2011 summary above:

 

Page 264: “Again, prosecutors noted the gravity of what Blagojevich had said. They were aware of the Balanoff meeting but had not recorded it.” (Tom Balanoff is president of the Service Employees International Union, Illinois Council, and the Vice President of its International Executive Board.)

 

How did the Coen/Chase know this information unless someone in the U.S. Attorney’s office gave them a blow-by-blow description of the investigation?  Of course that’s what happened. The authors were scripted by the feds.

 

Page 267: “At the FBI’s listening room, there continued to be a mixture of thrilled disbelief and newfound resolve at what was being caught on the recordings. Agents believed they were capturing the sitting governor in incriminating conversations, and they played the calls for supervisors.

 

At one point, the FBI’s national director, Robert Mueller, was in town for a Chicago event. Having heard about the success of the Blagojevich operation, Mueller wanted to hear some of the recordings for himself. He stopped at the FBI’s Chicago headquarters on Roosevelt Road on the West Side near Ogden Avenue and took a seat in Rob Grant’s office. Agents had put together a disc of some of their favorite snippets for Mueller to hear.

 

Who was the guy dropping the F-Bombs? Mueller asked.

 

Well, that was the governor of Illinois, agents explained.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mueller said, shaking his head, clearly pleased with how investigators were doing.”

 

This sounds like the testimony of an eyewitness to the event, given all the illustrative details. That eyewitness would be an employee of the FBI, or, someone from Fitzgerald’s office involved in the USAO’s investigation of Blago. This information clearly didn’t come from an audio tape or transcript of one of Blago’s intercepted calls, or from the building’s janitor.

 

It comes from a source intimately involved in the investigation.

 

Page 281This portion of Chapter 14 explains the nature of the alleged urgency that caused the USAO to arrest Blago to, as Fitzgerald later claimed, stop an on-going crime spree.

 

“Fitzgerald had grown concerned that they had a sitting governor who had yet to make an appointment after working for weeks to see what he could get for himself in a deal for the Senate seat. They could let things go a little further, but it was starting to get risky that Blagojevichwould actually make a choice. Schar [Reid Schar, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, NDIL] said it would be derelict of those in the room to allow Blagojevich to make a decision. Everyone in the meeting believed the process had been corrupted, no matter how Blagojevich finally acted. To do something before he made a pick and out the investigation would at least make that corruption known, and the political could react to any pick by the governor.

 

In the end, there was agreement. Very soon, they would act, and likely on the morning of December 9, a Tuesday, the day before Blagojevich’s birthday and after a possible meeting the governor had been talking about with Jesse JacksonJr.”

 

What does “at least make that corruption known” mean? The USAO had been investigating Blago for years, and had compiled a substantial amount of evidence of corruption. Aleast, the goal should have been to arrest Blago when he accepted a bribe, and, also, arrest whoever paidthe bribe.

 

The real risk in letting Blago close a deal with the briber(s) negotiating with him on behalf of Jesse Jackson, Jr., was that they, too, would be implicated in a crime along with Blago. Whatever happened to the notion of intent to commit a crime? Blago went to jail – the briber(s) skated. That was the goal.

 

Pages 286-288: “Jackson was the uber African American, Blagojevich reminded Harris.  He would consider what it would mean in black politics and how it would strengthen him, Blagojevich said, and don’t forget, third parties had offered him $1.5 million in fund-raising help.”  (p. 286)

 

There’s tangible, concrete, tangible stuff from [Jackson’s] supporters, Blagojevich said, as Yang [Fred Yang, a pollster hired by Blagojevich] pressed him for more detail. Well like, you know. You know what I’m talking about, the governor finally told him. Specific amounts and everything.’” (p. 287)

 

“When prosecutors heard Blagojevich make the ‘tangible’ remark, they believed the Jackson proposal was in fact the way the governor was going to go.” (p. 288)

 

So, according to Coen/Chase, the feds believed that Blago was about to do a deal that would yield him $1.5 million for appointing Jesse Jackson, Jr. as a U.S. Senator from Illinois. That means that Blago was arrested to stop the commission of a specific crime, rather than to stop a crime spree.

 

If the USAO would have waited, both the bribee and the briber would have been caught and prosecuted. But the trap was sprung prematurely – for a reason.

 

Robert Blagojevich had a meeting scheduled with Jackson's money man  Raghuveer Nayak on Friday, December 5. After learning from Chase, on the evening of December 4, that his conversations were being intercepted by the feds, Blago instructed his brother Robert to cancel that meeting.

 

The Duck Rule

 

If it looks like a duck; waddles like a duck; and quacks like a duck – face it, it’s a duck.

 

As we wrote back in October 2011: “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.

 

Remember that Jackson was the ’08 Co-chair of Obama’s Presidential Campaign Committee.

 

Conclusion

 

The book entitled Golden, written by two Chicago Tribune reporters who were granted special access to information coming from inside the investigation, is a 486-page apologia in defense of an improbable explanation behind the timing of the arrest of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

 

It is a duck.

 

Was there a quid pro quo deal here? Did the USAO inside-leaker(s) say, “Guys, we’ll give you exclusive access to all this information, and in exchange you tell the story the way we want it told. We gotta deal?”

 

Don’t forget that Roland Burris, the man Blago appointed to the U.S. Senate, was the 60th vote in favor of ObamaCare.  Had Blago, and those bribing him, both been arrested after the money was exchanged, would there have even been a second Senator from Illinois in the U.S. Senate when the ObamaCare vote was taken?

Share
20Mar/120

Besides the Postman Video, Jerome Corsi has another about Obama

Share

 <<BREAKING NEWS>>

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter & Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

Illinois PayToPlay has learned that, in addition to the Postman video recently released by Jerome Corsi on World Net Daily, Corsi also holds a 2011 recorded interview with former Rezko associate Daniel T. Frawley.

The recording was made late last year in Chicago in a meeting that involved Corsi, Frawley and three other persons who gathered to discuss the possibility of writing a book.

The recording reportedly includes a description of how, in 2004, during Nadhmi Auchi’s visit to Chicago, Auchi, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, and Barack Obama met in the basement “cigar room” inside Rezko’s 30-room mansion in Wilmette, Illinois where they discussed, among other things, the purchase of a 62-acres plot in the South Loop.

A January 2012 lawsuit pitting a Chicago investor in the land purchase, Semir Sirazi, against Auchi was linked in a previous Illinois PayToPlay article.

In response to an inquiry concerning access to the Frawley video, Corsi confirmed that Auchi’s ’04 Chicago visit was discussed but that the video would only be released with Frawley’s approval.

A recent post on Illinois PayToPlay reported that Frawley claims that he gave Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then gave to Obama.

Frawley faces sentencing in mid-April on a bank fraud charge to which he pled guilty in February 2011.

Share
5Mar/120

Sun Times withholds information about Frawley’s Obama-bribe accusation

Share

Jontel Kassidy, Capital Correspondent

Illinois PayToPlay has learned that, since January 19, 2012, two reporters and one editor at the Chicago Sun Times have held relevant information provided by an informant concerning Daniel Frawley’s claim that he gave Tony Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then passed on to U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

No one at the paper has either acknowledged receipt of the information, expressed an interest in how it was obtained, nor queried the source for additional details.

On February 27, 2012, Illinois PayToPay investigative reporter Hugo Floriani reported that:

“Frawley’s claim that the money he gave Rezko went to Obama is alluded to in a December 1, 2010 deposition executed in the context of a legal malpractice complaint filed by Frawley, on July 9, 2010, against his former attorney and long-time friend, George Weaver.

Frawley alleges that Weaver was not representing his best interests when Weaver interrupted a March 2006 phone conversation, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between Frawley and Rezko who were scheduling a face-to-face meeting.

Frawley cooperated with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Rezko by wearing a wire.

On page 21 of the deposition, this exchange is recorded between Weaver’s attorney, Daniel F. Konicek, and Frawley:

Konicek: And Tony Rezko was where when you were speaking to him?

Frawley: He was on the other end of the phone. I don’t recall where he was.

Konicek: Okay. Now, that answers one part of the question is who was present when Mr. Weaver made a gesture across his neck with both hands [signaling that the conversation should cease]. But my question was a little different because your complaint specifically alleges he [Weaver] told you to withhold certain information, right.

Frawley: Yes.

Konicek: I’m assuming the information is about the payments made by Rezko to Obama, so we know we’re talking about the right conversation, right?

Franklin: (Charles Franklin, representing Frawley.) I’m not going to make any objection. I think that’s – you may make that assumption, but I think it’s unfair to make the – to have Mr. Frawley make the assumption. Also, it doesn’t go to who or where or the forum non conveniens issue.

Konicek: There’s going to be multiple conversations, I want to make sure I understand where each occurred. So you said he (Weaver) withheld information. Am I correct it was about Obama being paid by Rezko?

The Witness: (Frawley) I’m not answering that question based upon my attorney’s instructions.

Since the July 11, 2011 Times article that linked to the deposition cited above, there’s been no mention by the paper of the alleged payment of Rezko to Obama using money Rezko received from Frawley.

Perhaps the paper is sitting on the story, waiting for it to hatch.  Just as they sat for seven years on the story of David Koschman’s murder and then hatched it on August 4, 2011.

Share
27Feb/120

Former Rezko partner says he gave Tony $400K for Obama

Share

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Daniel T. Frawley, a former business partner of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, claims he gave Rezko $400,000 that Rezko gave to then U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

This claim comes through Frawley’s emails to, and conversations with, Robert “Bob” Cooley, former Chicago mob lawyer turned government informer and author of the book on Chicago corruption entitled “When Corruption Was King”. 

Cooley was the star witness in a series of trials in the early 1990’s as part of an F.B.I. investigation named Operation Gambat. Those trials led to the convictions of over a score of Chicago crooks, including First Ward Alderman Fred Roti, a made-man; the Chief Judge of Cook County’s Chancery Court; the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate; and the only Federal Judge in U.S. history convicted of fixing a murder trial.

About April 2011, Frawley, along with Daniel Mahru, a former business associate of Rezko dating back to 1989, and a former business partner of current White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, began conversations with Cooley concerning collaboration on a book about Chicago corruption.

Frawley’s claim that the money he gave Rezko went to Obama is alluded to in a December 1, 2010 deposition executed in the context of a legal malpractice complaint filed by Frawley, on July 9, 2010, against his former attorney and long-time friend, George Weaver.

Frawley alleges that Weaver was not representing his best interests when Weaver interrupted a March 2006 phone conversation, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between Frawley and Rezko who were scheduling a face-to-face meeting.

Frawley cooperated with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Rezko by wearing a wire.

On page 21 of the deposition, this exchange is recorded between Weaver’s attorney, Daniel F. Konicek, and Frawley:

Konicek: And Tony Rezko was where when you were speaking to him?

Frawley: He was on the other end of the phone. I don’t recall where he was.

Konicek: Okay. Now, that answers one part of the question is who was present when Mr. Weaver made a gesture across his neck with both hands [signaling that the conversation should cease]. But my question was a little different because your complaint specifically alleges he [Weaver] told you to withhold certain information, right.

Frawley: Yes.

Konicek: I’m assuming the information is about the payments made by Rezko to Obama, so we know we’re talking about the right conversation, right?

Franklin: (Charles Franklin, representing Frawley.) I’m not going to make any objection. I think that’s – you may make that assumption, but I think it’s unfair to make the – to have Mr. Frawley make the assumption. Also, it doesn’t go to who or where or the forum non conveniens issue.

Konicek: There’s going to be multiple conversations, I want to make sure I understand where each occurred. So you said he (Weaver) withheld information.  Am I correct it was about Obama being paid by Rezko?

The Witness: (Frawley) I’m not answering that question based upon my attorney’s instructions.

Less than two months later, on January 26, 2011, the feds charged Frawley with bank fraud, although the statute of limitations on his crime had expired. He pled guilty on February 14, 2011 and was ordered to make restitution of $4,000,000. He awaits sentencing in mid-April after four previous sentencing dates were postponed.

Frawley’s claim, that he passed money to Rezko that went to Obama, is referenced in an email to Cooley dated May 31, 2011, wherein Frawley outlines his thoughts on how to bring “this” to the public’s attention.

From: Dan Frawley (address deleted)
Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
Subject: Frawely [sic] vs Weaver
To: Robert XXXXX (Cooley address deleted)

Hi Bob
I think the best way to bring this to the public and media is to fact plead the malpractice case against Weaver.

I have discussed this with my attorney's and they are willing to do it at the right time and way. Instead of a news conference being called like the gay guy did with Obama.

PUT AS THE GUTS OF THE SUIT THE MEETING AT THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE 4OO GRAND GOING TO YOU KNOW WHO AND THE USE OF THE MONEY.

I would bring this out in the for [sic] of a legal action not a personal vendetta. The media with the right reporters would make sure that was national news. When the usual denials are made or the old I don't remember I hit him with the second naming names dates and places.
Punches are always more effective when thrown in combination. know [sic] we figure out the best timing.
DAN

Cooley confirmed to a source that “YOU KNOW WHO” refers to then U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

Cooley also told a source that, “Dan was wearing a wire for a couple of years on Tony Rezko, and he told the feds he was giving money to Rezko for Barack Obama. They told him over and over again never to discuss Obama and wires with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and never even mention Obama’s name.”

Another undercover operative for the feds in the investigation of Rezko, Bernard T. Barton, Jr., alias “John Thomas,” was also prohibited from taping conversations concerning Obama.

According to the source, Cooley added that Frawley told him in several emails, during multiple phone conversations, and in a face-to-face meeting in Chicago, that he gave more than $1 million to Rezko “who said that he wanted it for Obama.”

Cooley speculated to the source that the indictment of Frawley ten years after the commission of bank fraud was intended “to keep him quiet, to keep him from talking.”

Despite his long association with Rezko, Frawley was not called as a prosecution witness in Rezko’s 2008 trial.

Share
31Dec/110

2012 Prediction: The Great Chicago Turf War Heats Up

Share

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Look for the political turf war underway in Chicago to heat up in 2012.

When one regime displaces another, a turf war typically ensues.  It happened when the old USSR collapsed.  It happened when the German Weimar Republic dissolved.  It’s happening right now in several Middle Eastern countries.

And, it’s happening in Chicago as the old Machine gradually yields ground to Rahm Emanuel and the New Chicago he brings. Less corrupt than the old? No reason to think that. Just more… artful.

New Chicago – we’ll call it that as a placeholder – is assembling its chess pieces.  The new owners of the Sun Times are heavy supporters of Rahmbo, as Chicago Business has pointed out.  Watch for the Times to be a leading shill for New Chicago.

That’s already started, in fact.

Was it dogged journalism that prompted the Times to dredge up a cold, as in frozen, case from April 2004 involving the murder of David Koschman, and the suggested involvement of Richard Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Daley II?  Or, is the Times dutifully getting a head start in tarnishing the legacy of the old Machine?

It is, after all, what new regimes do to the ones they displace – they tarnish the past to make what they offer as “new” that much more attractive. In the long run, though, it seldom is…more attractive.

Too much of the Machine is still firmly entrenched for New Chicago to be too overtly critical of the past.  It’ll take some face-changes at senior levels for the tarnishing to shift into a higher gear.

To track that development, do this:  Make a short list of the most entrenched, influencial, long-standing, high-profile personalities of the old Machine. Say, five names.  Then ask yourself:

  • Who among them is most practiced at, and vulnerable to a charge of, political corruption in the Old Machine Pay-to-Play Way?
  • Who is at an age and stage in their life when younger replacements are eager to fill the void in the pecking order their absence would leave?
  • And, who is most widely feared within the Machine itself? Someone whose loss of power would enable a redistribution of spoils to several others eager to drink from the well, not just one other.

In 2012, watch the Chicago news – focusing on the Sun Times – for hints of a gradual take-down of one among the five. It’ll make headlines.

It is, after all, what new regimes do to establish their power base.  And Rahmbo’s New Chicago is emerging.

Share
23Nov/110

Rezko Sentenced to Await Obama’s Pardon

Share

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

WOW!  Today Federal U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Tony Rezko to 10½ years in prison!  That can’t be good news for Blago. He’s next.

This reporter is, frankly, surprised – astonished is a better word – that St. Eve came down so hard on Tony.  (But we don’t back off the analysis of the Sun Times article yesterday wherein a case was implicitly made by the reporter for giving him time served.)

Does this mean that Tony will do at least the federally mandated 85% of his time before being a free man again? Maybe. Maybe not.

Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama was considerably less than forthcoming and truthful when describing his relationship with Tony before the ’08 election.  In short, he lied. Illinois Pay-to-Play will elaborate on that assertion in the weeks ahead.

We expected that, today, Tony might be a free man, sentenced to time served. Or, that his sentencing might be postponed yet again. We were wrong. But that won’t stop us from sticking out collective neck again.

Rezko expects to be pardoned by his friend Obama. Whether Obama wins or losses (or doesn’t even run in) the next election, he will pardon his friend and financial benefactor Tony after the ’12 election.  Tony is expecting that, given two eyewitness accounts known to us wherein Tony said he expects Obama to pardon him.

We hope we’re wrong about that prediction, too. Very wrong. Tony did the crime – he should do all  the time.  And more.

It’s time that will tell.

Share