Reporting with Natasha Korecki
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.