Reporting with Lark Turner
Rod Blagojevich's running buddy, onetime law school roommate and former chief of staff Lon Monk testified that he took $70,000 to $90,000 in cash payments from fundraiser Tony Rezko.
Monk said he took the money while he worked as chief of staff for Blagojevich and Rezko was a major fund-raiser.
Before his 2008 conviction, Rezko was a major political donor, forging ties with numerous politicos, including one Barack Obama.
The cash payments from Rezko started in May of 2004, according to Monk.
"I'd gone to him to recommend a car dealership where I could buy a particular car," Monk said of Rezko. "He gave me that recommendation and at that time told me he wanted to help me buy the car."
Rezko then helped him buy his car. He continued paying Monk about $10,000 in cash on different occasions. Monk did not deposit it because he didn't want anyone seeing large cash deposits in his bank account.
Jurors heard the disclosure after Monk described how he, Blagojevich, fund-raiser Chris Kelly and Rezko were close and had met on occasion to discuss ways to make money off of state business. Monk's testimony was not as detailed as it was in last summer's trial, when he described Rezko at a drawing board describing ways to divvy up potential state deals.
Monk then turned to the time period under a microscope in this trial, the fall of 2008. He described numerous fund-raising meetings with Blagojevich, painting him as increasingly desperate to grow his campaign treasure chest.
"He was consistently concerned about the amount of fund-raising that was going on," Monk said of Blagojevich in 2008. "It was never enough."
In a recent interview, Blagojevich said of all the witnesses who took the stand in his first trial, he'd like to take Monk aside and look him in the eye.
"Why? You needed money, why didn't you ask me?" Blagojevich said of Monk's testimony about taking Rezko payments. "And you know what Lon, I pretty much let you pay yourself whatever you wanted to pay yourself."