Prosecutors rest in Blagojevich case; judge delays trial

Adviser testifies on fundraising

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CHICAGO | Federal prosecutors have rested their case in the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

But the former governor’s defense attorneys won’t start their case until Monday. U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Tuesday that he’d delay the trial to allow the defense time to prepare witnesses.

Earlier Tuesday, a lobbyist who for years was one of Mr. Blagojevich’s closest advisers testified that he became so concerned about the intensifying pressure the Illinois governor was placing on potential campaign contributors that he contacted the FBI and began cooperating in the government’s investigation.

“I was increasingly alarmed about the level of aggressiveness the fundraising had taken on,” John Wyma said at Mr. Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial.

Mr. Wyma testified about fundraising meetings in fall 2008 at which he said Mr. Blagojevich outlined plans to pressure a hospital administrator and road-building executive for thousands of dollars in campaign money while they had business pending before the governor’s administration.

“I brought it as quickly as I could to the attention of the appropriate people,” said Mr. Wyma, who was chief of staff in Mr. Blagojevich’s office when he was a member of the U.S. House and later raised funds for his campaigns for governor.

He said that in the meetings, Mr. Blagojevich said he wanted to get contributions totaling $500,000 through the fundraising efforts of road builder Gerald Krozel, who was hoping the governor would expand a tollway construction program. He said he wanted $50,000 from Patrick Magoon, president of Children’s Memorial Hospital, which was hoping for an increase in its Medicaid reimbursement rate.

“I want to get Magoon for fifty,” Mr. Wyma quoted Mr. Blagojevich as saying.

He also testified that the governor’s brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich, called and urged him to press Mr. Magoon - whose hospital was Mr. Wyma’s client - to make the contribution.

“Hey, man, you know I’m jerking your chain but I think they have a potential to do well by us,” Mr. Wyma quoted Robert Blagojevich as saying in one phone call.

Rod Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to sell or trade President Obama’s former Senate seat and plotting to launch a racketeering operation in the governor’s office. Robert Blagojevich, 54, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged scheme involving the Senate seat and plotting to squeeze businessmen for contributions.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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