Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney
In an attempt to bolster witness Richard Olsen's testimony, the prosecution immediately called to the stand Olsen's boss, Erik Madsen, the CEO of Votorantim Cement North America. VCNA acquired the company employing prosecution witness and roadway-building executive Gerald Krozel in 2008.
Olsen and Madsen attended a lunch meeting with Krozel, Rod Blagojevich and Lon Monk in 2008. Prosecutors allege Blagojevich was pressuring Krozel to come up with campaign contributions in exchange for pushing through a $6 billion Tollway plan.
Blagojevich contends he just used the meeting to "talk up" Krozel to his new bosses.
Blagojevich was planning on approving a small Tollway plan of less than $2 billion, according to witnesses on both sides of the case. Blagojevich testified he never intended to approve the larger, $6 billion Tollway plan except in connection with a $35 billion statewide bill benefiting infrastructure across the state. Madsen testified differently.
"My understanding was it was his intention to go forward with both of them in a phased manner," Madsen said.
He told defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky his impression of the governor was that of a "very interesting person."
Both Madsen and Olsen said Blagojevich did not ask them for contributions at the luncheon. Madsen even appeared annoyed at being asked the question a second time.
Sorosky: "Did he indicate to you he wanted to help?"
Madsen: "I believe the governor wanted to help Illinois."
Sorosky: "He also wanted to help your company?"
Madsen: "The industry, yes."
Sorosky: "He never asked you for any contributions?"
Madsen: "I believe I answered that question. ... He didn't ask for a contribution at that luncheon."
With Madsen off the stand, prosecutors and defense lawyers are in a sidebar with Judge James Zagel. Prosecutor Reid Schar is gesturing emphatically, making quote marks with his fingers.