Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Witness: Rod Blagojevich, Kelly, Monk would share cash from Rezko deal

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

rezobama
Tony Rezko

A second witness -- who is on the stand under a letter of immunity -- testified that Tony Rezko told him Rod Blagojevich, while he was governor, was involved in a deal with Rezko where fees would be split between himself and his "inner circle."

Rezko proposed that Aramanda would act as an intermediary with the Teachers Retirement Systems and receive fees from TRS investments with different firms, according to court records.

Joseph Aramanda testified that Rezko invited him to be part of that business venture where his annual yearly salary would be $250,000. Aramanda said he thought that was shockingly low, given that the transactions could rake in $1 million or more per deal and there would likely be multiple deals each year.

Aramanda asked Rezko what was going to happen to the rest of the money, he testified.

The answer was that it would be split among other partners.

The big reveal: Aramanda backed up what government witness Lon Monk claimed earlier in his testimony -- that sharing in the proceeds from that proposed deal would be Rod Blagojevich, Lon Monk and Chris Kelly.

"I was uncomfortable with the situation," Aramanda said of the proposed venture. "I thought it was wrong."

Aramanda said he refused to take part in it.

Still, his testimony supports Monk, who the defense called a liar. Monk testified that Blagojevich, himself, Rezko and Kelly met secretly to map out how they would make money off of state deals with the then-governor taking action to benefit his friends.

Aramanda is a friend and former business associate of Rezko, the convicted fund-raiser. He is testifying about a 2004 deal to accept a finder's fee from Glencoe Capital, which won a $50 million investment from the state's Teachers' Retirement System.

Aramanda hadn't done any work for his fees, he testified. So when he asked Glencoe Capital's Sheldon Pekin to make the second payment in April 2004, Pekin shot back with, "What do you think, Christmas comes early?" according to Aramanda.

Prosecutors played a recording of a conversation between onetime TRS and health board member Stuart Levine and Sheldon Pekin that confirmed the Christmas comment and the tape made reference to the "other guy," getting upset about Pekin's comment. The "other guy," is a reference to Tony Rezko, according to testimony at Rezko's 2008 trial.

Pekin's comment insinuated that Aramanda was pocketing "gift" money, Aramanda testified, and he was offended by the remark.

According to Aramanda, it was Rezko who hooked up Aramanda to do work for Pekin. Of Aramanda's first $150,000 payment from Pekin, $50,000 went to Rezko, Aramanda testified.

Rezko approached Aramanda to smooth things over after the Christmas remark, and he told Aramanda he wanted him in on another investment-finding deal -- one he said "could be a really big business opportunity and could relate to multiple transactions over a number of years," Aramanda testified.

Defense attorney Michael Gillespie is now cross-examining.

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4 Comments

Just Thought of something why would blago at the beginning of his career when he still had the illusion that he could become president need to come up with a scheme to get rid think of it. He at least comes off as a huge narcissist so wouldn't it stand to reason that he would think he would need to do that if one day he would become president.

Think about every past president, if they weren't multimillionaire before they were elected a year or two after they have all gotten sweet book deals and lots of high paying guest speaking fees. Is he guilty maybe, does whats been release up to the trial make him look guilty yes, but did he really plan it from the start? I don't know maybe its just me but that seems absurd, but maybe he's just not a normal person theres no way we will ever now for sure.

Its obvious that the money was being diverted (washed & rinsed) through bagmen many times over so that tracking the original kickback would be next to impossible to pin point. For that matter it still would not make Blago innocent even if the original kickback cash was lets say literally burned to cover up the evidence. Blago's intent was that in which the govt alleges.

"Aramanda said when he got the first check, Rezko asked him to divert $50,000 of it to the sister of one of Rezko’s business associates"...This was taken from the Trib's blog...This had to be Dan Frawley's sister, either Sgt. Maureen Frawley or his sister and partner Kathleen Cullen.

What bothers me about the case outside of Monk, who can't remember one specific plan(Either he does and he doesn't want to say in which case he would be braking the law and good by deal or it seems like he's making up somethings unless you have a very bad memory your going to remember), is that it seems like the government is counting on what rezko told other people. What's wrong with that this guy lied and cheated everyone, clearly the things he told people where always true, I mean seriously I'm sure they could get some real witness not just people who have hersay from a notoriously unreliable man, whom the gov't has no intentions of having testify because they know or at least believe to be such. I guess my point is you can't assume what he told these people is true, he's not a very honest man(or at least it seems) and people like that tend to be great liars that get away with it because they tell everyone the same stories(sometimes you need to be if you don't want to be caught), or he did tell people other stories, but he told different groups of people different things in which case the thing he said would be even less reliable. Without the money it seem impossible to verify the factuality of the claim he made to these individual, but who know we'll see

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on June 16, 2010 10:22 AM.

Blagojevich trial: Defense asks tapes be held until after cross-examination; judge says no was the previous entry in this blog.

Witness: I met Blagojevich -- and Barack Obama -- at a Rezko fund-raiser is the next entry in this blog.

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