1Mar/120

U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald has known of Frawley’s Obama-bribe accusation

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Jontel Kassidy, Senior Capital Correspondent

Since at least last January 22nd, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has known of Daniel Frawley’s claim that he gave Tony Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then passed on to U.S. Senator Barack Obama.  We believe, though, that that knowledge goes back much earlier.

In a December 11, 2011 Illinois Pay To Play (IP2P) article entitled “The Fitz Solution to Corruption: The Citizens Report It,” we noted that “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.”

Along with that article, IP2P posted a video clip wherein Fitzgerald stated that there needed 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 it’s a fact that the U.S. Attorney has, on several occasions, encouraged average citizens to get involved in fighting corruption.

Well, we found one citizen who did just that, back on January 22nd – six weeks ago. Here’s the email thread the citizen sent.

From: Address Deleted
To: "Randall Samborn" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>, "Kimberly Nerheim" <Adress Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:15:44 PM
Subject: Public outreach/safety.

Mr Randall Samborn and Ms. Kimberly Nerheim

I am more than a little concerned by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's complete lack of response to the serious matter that has been brought to his attention below. Mr. Fitzgerald made a very public outreach encouraging people to report corruption to his office. Hopefully he will not disappoint those he urged to risk so much ?

Concerned Citizen

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

_____________________________________________________________________________

From: Address Deleted
To: "Randall Samborn" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Cc: "Kimberly Nerheim" <Address Deleted@usdoj.gov>
Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2012 4:11:12 PM
Subject: What happens when citizens step up?

Mr. Randall Samborn

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has repeatedly challenged the public to do something about corruption in Illinois by bringing information of illegal acts directly to him. Mr. Samborn, while I agree the premise of reporting crime to the U.S. Attorney is a logical step in fighting corruption, I do not underestimate the serious danger those who do are put in.

Need I remind you, it was also Patrick Fitzgerald who acknowledged that his office may be the source for information being leaked to the very criminals he urges the public to inform on. With this in mind, please personally hand a copy of this email to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and ask him to personally send me a response addressing concerns I have about his office and my personal safety. At the very least Mr Fitzgerald can acknowledge the risk I am taking exposing corruption at the highest levels.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Dan Frawley <Address Deleted@gmail.com>
> Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
> Subject: Frawely vs Weaver
> To: XXXXX XXXXX <XXXXXXXX@gmail.com>
>
> Hi XXXX
> 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 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 we figure out the best timing.
> DAN 

 

And in response, what did the citizen hear back from the U.S. Attorney’s office?

Absolute silence.

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11Dec/110

The Fitz Solution to Corruption: The Citizens Report It

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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.

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6Nov/110

Rezko’s Sentencing Recommendations, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

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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…

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16Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? Series Summary (Part 10)

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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.

  1. The Chicago Tribune, the Sun Times, and the entire Chicago TV media,, for selectively withholding information concerning Obama’s past in Chicago.
  2. Former Tribune political reporter and consultant to Blago during his Congressional campaigns – David Axelrod.  And, the…
  3. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

This story is far from over.

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13Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Exterminator’s Catch & Release Program (Part 9)

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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.

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11Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? A Fitz Question for the Chicago Media (Part 8)

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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.

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10Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Regime’s Undertaker (Part 7)

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

When the Obama Regime wants a story buried who does Eric Holder’s Department of Selective Justice call? Fitz, the Undertaker. For example…

Fitz’s Alleged Investigation into the John Adam’s Project

On March 19, 2010, Newsweek (linked by The Daily Beast) was among the MSM outlets that ever-so-briefly reported that “Holder Taps Fitzgerald for Gitmo Photo Probe.”

“Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has tapped the Justice Department's most feared [reinforcing the Untouchable Myth] prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to lead a sensitive investigation into whether defense lawyers at Guantánamo Bay compromised the identities of covert CIA officers. The probe was triggered by the discovery last year of about 20 color photographs of CIA officials in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, an alleged financier of the 9/11 attacks, say three current and former government officials who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.”

The subject of the alleged investigation was the ACLU’s John Adam’s Project.  Don’t remember it?  That’s understandable. It only briefly popped up on the lame stream media’s radar, and then – presto – it vanished.

FOX’s Bill O’Reilly covered the story at the time.

O’Reilly followed up in this interview with conservative pundit Ann Coulter.


It seems there was, and probably still is, a dispute between the Regime and the CIA. On May 27, 2010, in a piece written by Marc Thiessen for the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, Thiessen stated,

“The Justice Department reportedly clashed with the CIA over investigating the John Adams Project—with the CIA complaining that Justice did not take seriously enough the threat the ACLU’s actions posed to CIA officials.

The Left is—of course—up at arms over the Miller amendment, calling it a “McCarthyite attack” on the al Qaeda lawyers and criticizing House Democrats for going along with the amendment.”  [Follow the links for details]

That would, of course, be the same “Left” that heralded Fitz’s dogged pursuit of the leaker in the Valerie Plame case, long after Richard Armitage confessed.

The question is: In the last 19 months what’s become of the Undertaker’s dogged pursuit of the truth in the John Adam’s Project?  Answer: Zip, zero, nada. It’s been buried by an administration politically amenable to the project’s objectives – i.e., exposing the identities of the CIA interrogators of terrorists.  Buried by Fitz, the Regime’s Undertaker.

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4Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? On Sharing Information with the USAO (Part 6)

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Patrick Fitzgerald has, on several public occasions, encouraged citizens with knowledge of corruption to come forward and tell his office what they know. It’s only with their help, he has said, that the USAO can clean up corruption in Crook County.

Okay.  Well, here’s a test of that exhortation.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you knew of someone associated with the legal team that represented a former business associate – oh, say, a bean counter (BC) – who’d done work for a high-dollar fund raiser facing possible indictment by a Grand Jury for allegedly being a Bag Man (BM) for a state-level politician.

Now, suppose also, that you learned that this someone made sure that BC (who was scheduled to testify before a Grand Jury as a witness in a complaint against BM) received past due payment for services BC had once provided BM.  Let’s say BC preformed miraculous accounting services.

Now, of course, this payment wasn’t a bribe.* Of course not! Just a late payment for past services rendered that just happened to come in the midst of BM’s Grand Jury saga. Pure coincidence. Read along, nothing to see here.

Now, imagine you knew that another person, a person of note within the U.S. Attorney’s office, had learned of this payment, but brought no charges against that someone close to BC’s legal team, for, what some might construe as…well, maybe not technically tampering with a witness (Title 18 U.S.C. section 1512), but something highly inappropriate.

Now, in this purely hypothetical example, where any relationship to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental, would you pass that information to the USAO and expect anything to come of it? Knowing that office’s proclivity to leak?

Not unless you’d been dropped on your head once and never fully recovered.

Oh, BTW, speaking of bribes, on April 18, 2006, in an article reporting on the conviction of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, The New York Times quoted Fitzgerald concerning bribes.

"People now know that if you're part of a corrupt conduct, where one hand is taking care of the other and contracts are going to people, you don't have to say the word 'bribe' out loud," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "And I think people need to understand we won't be afraid to take strong circumstantial cases into court."

 

Hat tip: John Chase, Chicago Tribune

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28Sep/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Silent Mole & A Complicit Newspaper (Part 5)

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Was Bernard Barton, Jr. relocated to Chicago on a mission to help bring down Tony Rezko and, thereby, shield a young, articulate, African-American politician from his potentially incriminating associations with Rezko? Too conspiratorial, you say? Maybe. Maybe not.

Let’s review the highlights of the Silent Mole, starting with an admission from the Complicit Newspaper.

The Chicago Tribune identified Thomas as a Mole in this May 4, 2007, article written by David Jackson.

John Thomas bought and sold downtown office buildings and helped other property developers secure multimillion-dollar mortgage loans.

But the high-living dealmaker had a double life.

Thomas, who was convicted of federal business fraud in New York in 2004, has been serving as an undercover government mole in Chicago for at least a year as part of an ongoing federal investigation into fraud in the financing of large-scale commercial real estate deals, the Tribune has learned.

Records made public so far do not identify the targets of the federal probe and the FBI and US Attorney’s Office declined to comment for this article.

That same May, a concerned citizen spoke on the phone with a well-known Chicago Tribune reporter.  The concerned citizen was trying to chase down information as to when the Tribune learned that John Thomas was an FBI mole while working in Rezko’s office.  “Thomas” was Barton’s new name in Chicago after being relocated from New York, where he faced prosecution and eventual sentencing for fraud.  (The complete story of Burton-Thomas is well documented and won’t be rehashed here.)

The concerned citizen asked the reporter why the Trib had sat on the Mole’s story since, at least, 2006.  That timeframe was implicitly provided by the Trib reporter when stating that Patrick Fitzgerald warned the paper, a year earlier in May 2006, that outing the Mole would cause problems for the investigation and could prove dangerous for Burton-Thomas.

Then, in a moment of indiscretion, the reporter added that Fitzgerald told the Trib in May 2006 that identifying the mole could also “influence the election.”

Now, the Illinois gubernatorial election came in November 2006, and the national election came two years after that.  To which election was the reporter referring? It wasn’t explicitly stated, but the obvious inference pointed to the Presidential election in 2008. In either case, it’s a curious statement coming from the USAO, as it was conveyed by the reporter.

There are other elements of the Burton-Thomas story equally curious.

Way back on February 22, 2002, then Tribune staff reporter Thomas A. Corfman, who followed the Mole over the years like a bloodhound, wrote this in an article:

Developer Donald Trump has picked prominent Chicago real estate firm U.S. Equities Realty to handle leasing for his proposed mixed-use skyscraper on the riverfront site of the Chicago Sun Times..

The selection was announced as questions surfaced in real estate circles about alleged criminal activity by two members of a small brokerage firm that, with Trump's blessing, last fall did some marketing of the 1.3 million square feet of office space in the massive tower.

John Thomas, a partner in Chicago-based Carnegie Realty Partners, and a Carnegie employee, Louis Giordano of New York, were arrested last year in connection with an alleged fraud scheme that took place over five years in New York.

According to an affidavit by an FBI agent, the wide-ranging scheme involved credit card fraud, forgery and allegations that the defendants, while running several billboard leasing companies, defrauded restaurants such as Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, and entertainment companies such as Motown Records and Arista Records.

Thomas allegedly took upfront lease payments for billboards in Manhattan's Times Square and along Broadway, even though he has no contracts to hang the advertising from the buildings, according to the affidavit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago in order to obtain a warrant for Thomas' arrest.

Thomas and Giordano are free on bond, according to court records. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York would not comment on the case.

They have not yet been indicted, although a formal charge is expected, said attorney Eugene E. Murphy Jr., who represents Thomas [and also represented Buddy Wilkins when Buddy appeared before the Rezko Grand Jury as a witness against Rezko, and he later represented Tony Rezko while at the Byran Cave law firm.]. "I look forward to defending this case," said Murphy, a partner with Chicago-based law firm Horwood Marcus & Berk. Giordano and his New York attorney could not be reached for comment.

Back when the Mole was entangled with the Eastern District of New York, Patrick Fitzgerald was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the adjacent Southern District.  The two would later rendezvous in Chicago.

So, in February 2002, shortly after Burton-Thomas was relocated to Chicago from the Big Apple, his nefarious past was outed by a Trib reporter, but lacked any hint of his cooperation with the feds, nor reference to his real name.

(So who alerted Corfman to Thomas’s past, since he was arrested in NY under another Burton? And, if Rezko new of Burton-Thomas’ past, what sense did it make to trust him to work in his office?)  

Four years later, Corfman reported again on Burton-Thomas.  His article appearing on November 1, 2006 at ChicagoRealEstateDail.com:

John Thomas, who has done more flips than an acrobat, has tied up another downtown office tower.

A venture managed by the controversial real estate entrepreneur has agreed to buy 20 S. Clark St., an office tower overlooking Chase Plaza in the Central Loop, says Mr. Thomas, who earlier this year formed Chicago-based Morgan Street Properties LLC for his investment activities.

The price is about $54 million, sources say…

In the last two years, Mr. Thomas has bought and quickly resold several other office buildings, including 250 S. Wacker Drive, 105 W. Adams St. and 11 S. LaSalle St. Last year, a Thomas venture bought 318 W. Adams St., a small West Loop office building that is being marketed as office condominiums…

He says he is also negotiating with developer Daniel Mahru, his partner on the 105 W. Adams and 11 S. LaSalle deals., to partner with him on 20 S. Clark.

Daniel Mahru was, as you probably know, a business partner of Tony Rezko.  Eventually, Burton-Thomas went to work in that same office. The Mole was in his designated hole.

Now, jump ahead to February 2008. Sun-Times staff reporter David Roeder elaborated on the Mole’s activity:

But sources said that, for more than two years when he was giving information to agents, Thomas provided a fly-on-the-wall look inside Rezko's real estate operations and his desperate attempts to keep his projects afloat.

Sources said Thomas also logged frequent visits to Rezko from Gov. Blagojevich and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).Blagojevich and Obama were among the many politicians for whom Rezko raised campaign cash. Neither has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Thomas had good reason to help. He hopes to get probation for his own felony fraud conviction in a New York case. And he said he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of business associates and his family.

Sources said Thomas helped investigators build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru's Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005…

Sources said the government had him wear a hidden wire to record conversations with a Chicago alderman -- but that he did not record Blagojevich or Obama.

Why no recording of Blago and Obama?  Maybe because Blago had notoriously loose lips and might say something that implicated the Protected One, Obama.

One month later, in March 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama was subjected to an underhand, slow-pitch softball interview by the editorial board of the Sun Times. The transcript of the interview (no longer available on line) includes this exchange:

Q: In November 2006, you and your campaign exchanged with us written interrogatories. So a lot of the quotes I will give you just come out of those. The campaign said that you probably had lunch with Rezko once or twice a year. You sort of added four or five times, something like that.

John Thomas is an FBI mole. He recently told us that he saw you coming and going from Rezko’s office a lot. And three other sources told us that you and Rezko spoke on the phone daily. Is that true?

A: (Obama) No. That’s not accurate

John Thomas aka Bernard Barton

Okay, maybe the Mole misremembered.  A bad memory might explain why he was never called by the USAO as a witness in the Rezko trial. Or, perhaps, there was another reason.

On June 21, U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo sentenced John Thomas to three years probation. His court records are sealed. His mission accomplished.  And the extent of his subsequent success in Chicago commercial real estate is displayed on his face today.

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26Sep/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? Saving Jesse Jr. (Part 4)

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

As the FBI planned the arrest of Blago, most of the serious wantabees lobbying for appointment to Obama’s Senate seat had backed off the pursuit, no doubt realizing that association with Hot Rod was about to become toxic.

But, there was still one candidate with his eyes on the prize.  Right up to the day of Blago’s arrest, Candidate #5’s people were working hard to put a package together to buy their guy the seat. Had Fitzpatrick waited a bit longer to pull the trigger on Blago, Candidate #5 might have been swept up in Fitz’s rush to stop a “corruption crime spree” in progress.

But it wasn’t to be, because the precise timing of the arrest of Blago was really about saving Jesse Jackson Junior’ political career.  And maybe even his freedom.

The Designated Bundler: Raghuveer Nayak

A prominent member of the Chicago Indian business community plays a key role in this story.

Here’s how the Chicago Tribune described Raghuveer Nayak in a December 10, 2008 article:

Nayak, 54, is a political and community leader in Chicago's Indian community who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich, including more than $200,000 from Nayak, his wife and his various corporations. Nayak and his wife have donated more than $22,000 to Jackson, federal records show, and raised more for the congressman.

Nayak owns a series of surgery centers on Chicago's North Side. He also founded and until recently retained an ownership stake in a drug testing laboratory with millions of dollars in Illinois public aid contracts.

The Fund Raising Event

According to that same Tribune article, Nayak and Jessie Jackson Junior’s brother, Jonathan Jackson, co-hosted an October 31, 2008 “Blagojevich fundraiser” in Elmhurst. “According to several people who were there, Nayak and Jonathan Jackson go back years and the two even went into business together years ago as part of a land purchase on the South Side.”

So the Jacksons and Nayak were long-time buds.

Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt was among those attending the event. More on him later.

The December 10, 2008 Tribune also reported that:

Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi {remember his name, too} privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson's bid for the Senate.

A year-and-a-later, on July 7, 2010, a Chicagobreakingnews.com article reported that:

A supporter of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told the Democratic congressman in 2008 that he would raise $1 million in return for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich naming Jackson to the U.S. Senate, a federal prosecutor said today.

The allegation, made on a busy day at Blagojevich's federal corruption trial, was the first time authorities publicly suggested Jackson was aware of efforts by his allies to swap campaign cash for his appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Prosecutors also played a rapid-fire sequence of secret wiretap recordings that show Blagojevich reluctantly warming to Jackson as a Senate pick after first profanely ripping him as a non-starter.”

Nearly three months later after the Chicagobreakingnews.com piece, on September 21, 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times (article available here) followed suit with,

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities.

The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.

The FBI interviewed that acquaintance -- a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro {with whom JJ Junior was having an affair} -- about a year ago as part of its corruption probe of Blagojevich. Authorities were trying to determine whether Jackson had asked Nayak to offer Blagojevich campaign cash in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to the seat once held by President Obama, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

Huidobro, Jackson and Nayak all dined together on Oct. 8, 2008 {about three weeks before the Oct 30 Elmhurst fundraiser} -- the same day that Nayak has told authorities he had a key conversation with Jackson about the Senate appointment, sources said. The three then ended up at Ozio, the restaurant and club where Huidobro works and where Jackson has held fund-raisers.

Before he dined with Huidobro and Jackson on Oct. 8, 2008, Nayak said he had a critical conversation with the congressman about the seat while the two were alone. Nayak, also a former Blagojevich fund-raiser, said that Jackson asked him to tell Blagojevich that if the then-governor appointed Jackson to the U.S. Senate, Chicago's Indian community would raise $1 million for Blagojevich and -- after Jackson was appointed -- Jackson would raise $5 million for the then-governor.

Here’s a version of J.J. Junior’s “public statement” mentioned in the second paragraph above:


A concise account of the ramp-up among Blago and his advisors concerning the possibility of appointing J.J. Junior to the Senate also appears in the July 7 Chicagobreakingnews.com piece linked above.

Here’s the setting: During the first Blago trial, Rajinder Bedi was being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner.

Bedi testified he met with Jackson and another important Indian businessman, Raghuveer Nayak, at a Loop restaurant on Oct. 28, 2008, and Jackson expressed his interest in Obama's Senate seat.

At that point, U.S. District Judge James Zagel sent jurors out of the room, then asked Niewoehner to explain where the testimony was headed.

Nayak says to Jackson in Bedi's presence, “I will raise a million if he appoints you to the Senate seat,” Niewoehner explained.

Zagel barred Niewoehner from asking Bedi about that part of the conversation before jurors, but Bedi did testify that both Jackson's interest in the seat and fundraising were discussed with Jackson sitting at the table. Prosecutors then played wiretaps of conversations in which Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, appeared aware of the approach involving Jackson. {one such transcript is below}.

In one, recorded the same day as that restaurant meeting, Robert Blagojevich told the governor that Bedi had filled him in on the details, including Nayak's offer to do "some accelerated fundraising" on the governor's behalf if Jackson got the Senate nod.

Three days later, Gov. Blagojevich was recorded talking about overtures for Jackson in a conversation with one of his deputy governors, Robert Greenlee.

"I'm tellin' ya that guy's shameless," Greenlee said.

"Unbelievable isn't it," responded Blagojevich. "Then I, we were approached, pay to play. That, you know he'd raise me 500 grand, an emissary came, then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him a senator."

In a Dec. 4 telephone call with one of his advisers, Fred Yang, Blagojevich said he was now keeping an open mind on "clearly somethin' I would never have considered and that's Jesse Jr."

The thought was repugnant, Blagojevich said, but "just between you and me, they've offered a whole bunch of different things they wanna do for me." Those things included fundraising, Blagojevich said on the recording, asking Yang to think about the politics of making a pick that was sure to be unpopular with the Washington establishment.

A couple of hours later, the governor was on the phone with his brother, filling him in on the idea that he had elevated Jackson to the top of the list of candidates he was considering to replace Obama. He wasn't going to tolerate making a pick and getting nothing in return, he said on the recording.

"And I can cut a better political deal with these Jacksons and, and most of it you probably can't believe, but some of it can be tangible upfront," Blagojevich said to his brother.

He directed Robert Blagojevich to get in touch with Nayak and explain that Jackson was a realistic pick, but the promised help had to start coming in immediately. And he warned him to be careful how that message was delivered.

Blago wasn’t keen on appointing J.J. Junior to the Senate, but the more the money-talk heated up, the more he warmed to the idea.

On December 6, the Blagojevich brothers had this brief conversation.

Date: 12/6/08

Time: 12:39 pm

Robert Blagojevich Cell Phone

Session: 2615

Speakers:

ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH

ROD BLAGOJEVICH

ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH {The Governor’s brother} Well, here’s one, uh that’s    pending tonight, possibly, with Raghu {Nayak}.  And all I’m thinking, all I’m thinking about saying is, you know, your guy’s meeting with Rod on Monday.  That’s all I’m gonna say, and I’ll leave it at that. Based on what you told me, correct? 

ROD BLAGOJEVICH Yeah, that’s all. You know, if he says, I can do a lot more money, say, that’s you know, you answer that and just say, uh, look one, you know, that’s, that’s your decision…

 ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH One is not tied to the other. One is not tied to the other.  And if you want to, obviously, we want to help you do that.”

 ROD BLAGOJEVICH Yeah, that’s good. I like that. But you..yeah, that’s good.

 ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH Alright, well, I hear your caution, and I’m not being defensive, I’m just trying to be explanatory, that’s all.  Alright, look, I’m freezing my ass off.  I’ve got to get in the shower here.

 ROD BLAGOJEVICH I’ll see you.

 ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH Alright bye.

 ROD BLAGOJEVICH Bye.

On Monday, December 8, JJ Junior and Blago met for 90 minutes during which J.J. Junior said, later, that he merely laid out his qualifications as a potential Senator.  No pay-to-play was discussed, he claimed.

On Tuesday, December 9, the FBI arrested Blago at his home.

Nayak, Harish, and Bedi – What’s become of them?

Raghu has had his own problems with a federal grand jury.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed dozens of doctors in the Chicago area as part of a probe into a wealthy Indian-American fund-raiser who owns surgical centers — and has ties to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

While the FBI and IRS investigation is centered on businessman and political fund-raiser Raghuveer Nayak, who owns surgical centers in Illinois and Indiana, the feds have cast a wide net: Sources said at least 30 doctors received grand jury subpoenas, and more than 10 of Nayak’s employees have also been subpoenaed.

In addition, two of Nayak’s surgery centers in Chicago were hit with search warrants in late January, and at least half a dozen doctors have been offered immunity or been granted immunity for their testimony, sources with knowledge of the investigation say.

Federal authorities are investigating whether Nayak made improper payments to the doctors in order to draw their surgeries to his centers. Under the allegations, while private insurers paid doctors and the centers for surgeries performed, Nayak is under investigation for allegedly separately paying doctors hundreds of dollars for every surgery brought to the centers. Doctors who perform out-patient surgeries, including chiropractors and podiatrists, practice at the centers and can choose to bring their work to the centers rather than a hospital.

Harish was visited by the FBI.

FBI agents on Thursday searched two Joliet drugstores owned by a major fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich who was the focus of a state investigation into whether campaign donations were made in exchange for regulatory favors.

Agents took records from the Basinger's Pharmacy stores but declined to say what they were investigating. FBI spokesman Ross Rice confirmed search warrants were executed and said no arrests were made.

The pharmacies are owned by Harish M. Bhatt, a prominent Indian businessman who helped the state's top pharmacy regulator win his job. The Tribune reported last year that state pharmacy auditors probing allegations of Medicaid fraud at Basinger’s complained that their bosses thwarted the investigation.

Bhatt denied he exerted any improper influence and said the investigation stalled for lack of evidence. State police and federal corruption investigators reopened the Bhatt investigation after Tribune reports.

And Bedi got arrested for shoplifting.  Back in April 2009, Bedi was fired from his $100K-plus job at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, so maybe he was short on cash.

Jesse Jackson Junior – What’s become of him?

Well, nothing so far.  He continues to be a United States Congressman. In the wake of his affair becoming public and lingering doubts surrounding his activities as Candidate #5, he decided not to run for Mayor of Chicago.  Nowadays, he keeps a relatively low profile.

Best of all, for him, is that he didn’t get indicted for trying to buy a seat in the United States Senate. For that he has the U.S. Attorney for the Northeastern District of Illinois to thank.

So why would Patrick Fitzgerald want to step in, at the 11th hour, to stop J.J. Junior from stepping on a political and criminal landmine?

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