- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

The federal indictment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants charges they conspired to trade official government action for Blagojevich’s political or personal gain involve a variety of characters. Among key players mentioned in the indictment:

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Rod Blagojevich, 52, of Chicago, a former state legislator and congressman elected governor in 2002 and re-elected four years later despite wide discussion of federal investigations into his administration. He was impeached and removed from office in January. He faces 16 counts of wire fraud, racketeering and extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements in a “pay-to-play” scheme to trade government action for personal and political enrichment beginning in 2002.

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John Harris, 47, of Chicago, Blagojevich’s chief of staff from late 2005 until December, when he was arrested and resigned. He is charged with a single count of wire fraud and is cooperating with authorities.

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Alonzo Monk, 50, of Park Ridge, a longtime friend of Blagojevich who served on his staff when the Democrat was in Congress, managed both his gubernatorial campaigns and was his first chief of staff. He is charged with a single count of wire fraud.

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Robert Blagojevich, 53, of Nashville, Tenn., the ex-governor’s brother who became his campaign finance chairman in August. He faces two counts of wire fraud.

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Christopher Kelly, 50, of Burr Ridge, a construction company owner and principal fundraiser for Blagojevich, who faces counts of fraud and extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion. He pleaded not guilty last month to separate corruption charges involving construction work at O’Hare International Airport and recently pleaded guilty to obstructing the Internal Revenue Service for paying gambling debts with company money and claiming it as a business expense.

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William F. Cellini Sr., 74, of Springfield, a longtime Republican fundraiser who also collected significant funds for Blagojevich. He faces the same charges as Kelly.

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Congressman A: An Illinois member of the U.S. House. When he asked about a $2 million grant for a public school in his district that Blagojevich had promised and included in the 2006 state budget, Blagojevich told the congressman’s staff member he had to hold a fundraiser for Blagojevich. Attorneys familiar with the case say Congressman A is President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. At the time, Emanuel was the congressman from the 5th District on Chicago’s North Side. The attorneys spoke on condition of anonymity because the congressman isn’t named in the indictment and the information is secret grand jury material.

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Senate Candidate A: The indictment claims Blagojevich believed an associate of Senate Candidate A promised to raise $1.5 million in campaign funds if he appointed the candidate to the Senate. This is consistent with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. Jackson is not charged with wrongdoing.

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Senate Candidate B: Several counts involve discussions Blagojevich and others had about whether he could get financial benefit or a high-paying job with a not-for-profit organization for appointing Senate Candidate B. This is consistent with Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser to President Barack Obama. Blagojevich thought Jarrett was Obama’s choice to succeed him in the Senate, but Jarrett withdrew her name in mid-November. Jarrett is not charged with wrongdoing.

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Children’s Memorial Hospital: The indictment claims Blagojevich tried to get a $50,000 campaign contribution from the hospital or its CEO, Patrick M. Magoon, in exchange for an $8 million pediatric care reimbursement promised by the state. Neither the hospital nor Magoon is charged with wrongdoing.

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Racetrack Executive: John Johnston, owner of two Chicago-area horse racing tracks, from whom Blagojevich wanted to get a $100,000 campaign contribution in exchange for signing a law benefiting horse racing. Johnston’s lawyer has said the contribution was not made, the federal government talked to Johnston and told him he is not a target or subject of the investigation.


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