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

No verdict yet; Blagojevich jury asks for deputy governor's testimony

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

As Judge James Zagel described it, the jury's question was "less than earth-shattering."

The jurors asked for the transcript of deputy governor Bradley Tusk's testimony in its entirety. Zagel has agreed to provide it.

Tusk's testimony centered on a charge involving the alleged attempted extortion of Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman. That charge is count 14 -- and not directly among the 11 wire fraud counts that the panel presumably was going back and deliberating after revealing Thursday they hadn't come to a conclusion on those counts.

However, the Emanuel scheme is included in three other, broader counts, including count one: racketeering; count two: racketeering conspiracy and the overall wire fraud scheme, which is spelled out in count three in the indictment.

Count three is a long, cumbersome charge that includes an overview of all the major schemes in the case but it is charged as a wire fraud.

In his testimony, Bradley Tusk, a onetime aide to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that while he was deputy governor of Illinois, Blagojevich told him he wanted a message delivered to then-U.S. Rep. Emanuel: A $2 million grant for the Chicago Academy, a school in Emanuel's district, was on hold unless his brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, held a fund-raiser.

Ari is the inspiration for the "Entourage" character, Ari Gold.

Tusk said he didn't deliver the message but called Blagojevich's lawyer, Bill Quinlan, and told him: "You need to get your client under control."

Neither Rahm Emanuel nor his brother held a fund-raiser for Blagojevich. And the school did get eventually get the money, but the funds were released slowly, according to testimony.

Today's communication from jurors comes after a three-day weekend for the panel, which signaled on Thursday it was at a stalemate over much of the case after 12 days of talks.

Jurors last week said they had agreed on just two of the 24 counts. They had not even deliberated on 11 wire fraud counts.

Zagel asked them to go back and discuss those charges even if they conclude they could not agree.

The jury is now on a lunch break. Zagel is giving the defense 30 minutes to come up with case law to dispute any issues.

Defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein had asked that jurors be told they should rely on their best recollection of the testimony even after they were given the transcript. Zagel said if Goldstein could give him case law on that, he'd consider it.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on August 16, 2010 11:17 AM.

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