Former state employee Rajinder Bedi testified that hours after meeting with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill), he approached the brother of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich with a money offer in exchange for a Senate seat appointment.
Bedi, testifying with a grant of immunity, said about a week before the presidential election, he told Robert Blagojevich that a supporter could raise "a lot of money" for the then-governor if he appointed Jackson to Barack Obama's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. It was an offer that Robert Blagojevich rejected, Bedi said.
Bedi testified that earlier that same day, Oct. 28, 2008, he, Jackson, and another Indian fund-raiser, Raghu Nayak, met at 312 Restaurant in the Loop. The Senate seat appointment and fund-raising were discussed at the 9:30 a.m. meeting, Bedi said. Then, at about 2:30 p.m., Bedi met with Robert Blagjoevich.
Prosecutor Christopher Niewoehner: "Was there conversation about congressman Jackson's interest in the senate seat?"
Niewoehner: "Did Nayak also talk to you about fund-raising?"
Bedi: "Yes he did."
On cross examination by defense lawyer Shelly Sorosky, Bedi talked about what he told Robert Blagojevich hours after meeting with Jackson:
"Did you say that Congressman Jackson was interested in being appointed a senator?"
"Yes," Bedi said.
Sorosky: "Did you say that Mr. Nayak was also interested in Congressman Jackson appointed a Senator?"
Sorosky: "Did you also say that Raghu Nayak would raise campaign funds or contribute campaign funds to Blagojevich?"
Sorosky: "Did you mention a specific amount of money?"
Bedi: "I said: 'a lot of money.'"
Apparently referring to the last trial, Sorosky asked Bedi if he mentioned $1 million to Robert Blagojevich. Bedi said he didn't remember.
Bedi was put through the wringer since he pleaded guilty to shoplifting at Home Depot last year.
"So you're a thief, right?" Sorosky asked Bedi.
But Judge James Zagel stepped in: "I think you can argue this point without asking him."
Sorosky asked Bedi about other testimony, including that he aided Nayak in a check-cashing scheme to help Nayak evade income taxes.
"So you're also guilty of assisting him in tax evasion, aren't you?" Sorosky asked.
"Yes," Bedi answered.
Nayak is under federal investigation tied to Surgi-Centers he owns, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported.
Last year, Jackson vehemently denied backing any offers made to Blagojevich through Nayak or Bedi. In a radio show, he urged prosecutors to "bring it on."
The Sun-Times reported last year that Nayak told authorities Jackson asked him in a private conversation to approach Blagojevich with a pay-to-play offer for the Senate seat. Jackson called the allegation "preposterous."
A Jackson spokesman on Wednesday had no immediate comment.