By David Schaper
Now that he's been fired by Donald Trump and is off "the Celebrity Apprentice," there are new details emerging about the allegedly illegal activities that got former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich fired from his last job.
Newly released court documents offer some new details about the evidence prosecutors plan to present in the federal corruption trial of Blagojevich, which is scheduled to begin June 3. And the most startling revelations, in many minds, are not related to the infamous ex-governor's efforts to auction off President Obama's old Senate seat to the highest bidder.
In fact, some shed new light on how deep the former Governor's wife, Patti Blagojevich, was allegedly involved in his schemes.
According to a 91-page Santiago proffer outlining the government's case:
-Blagojevich's wife, Patti, had a no-show job with real estate developer/Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko, in which she made over $150,000 in allegedly bogus commissions and fees. (Prosecutor allege Patti Blagojevich was on a $12,000 a month retainer with Rezko's development company, Rezmar, and they allege she regularly received additional commissions for doing little or no work.
Rezko cut her one check for $40,000 and she turned around and paid almost $38,000 2 days later for renovations to the Blagojevich's home. Rod Blagojevich was allegedly so concerned about the appearance of Patti as a ghost payroller, that he and his alleged co-conspirators talked about getting her to actually show up the Rezmar office.)
-Blagojevich and his tight-knit inner circle of friends and advisors allegedly started scheming to turn his 2002 election as governor into a personal fortune from the very start of his term in office. (The government's documents allege that Rezko stood at a board outlining ideas to use the office to divvy up hundreds of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten gains.
"Blagojevich mostly listened during the meeting, but was engaged," Alonzo "Lon" Monk, the ex-governor's first chief of staff who later became a lobbyist is quoted as saying. Monk has pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against Blagojeivich.)
-The documents explain how Blagojevich allegedly tried to shake down an executive for Chicago's Children's Hospital for a huge campaign contribution, allegedly threatening to hold up state aid for the hospital, and an ex-Chicago Cubs manager unwittingly helped in the scheme. (Children's was looking for an increase in state Medicaid funding, saying it was losing money treating some of the state's neediest and most ill children.
At first, Blagojevich wouldn't even talk to the hospital's CEO until the hospital had former Cubs manager Dusty Baker (now managing the Cincinnati Reds) contact Blagojevich, who is a big Cubs fan. Blagojevich said he could give the hospital $8 million but allegedly wanted "get (the CEO) for 50" meaning a $50,000 campaign contribution in return. When the CEO balked, Blagojevich allegedly tried to pull the funding.)
-The documents portray Blagojevich as someone tired of his job as governor and looking to move on, and possibly out of Chicago, but not without a big salary. "Now is the time for me to put my (expletive) children and wife first, for a change," Blagojevich is recorded saying in one conversation that the government alleges was about getting as much as he could for the Obama Senate seat.
In another conversation in which he allegedly discussed being appointed a cabinet secretary, Blagojevich is caught on tape saying, "The objective is to, to get a good gig over there."
Blagojevich and his attorneys say documents are slanted, one-sided and are merely allegations. "There is nothing new," the former governor said in a statement released by his publicist. "It's the same old false allegations and lies. I'm looking forward to trial so the truth comes out and everyone will see that I am innocent."
Blagojevich's defense fought the release of the documents, arguing the pre-trial publicity could taint the jury pool and prevent him from getting a fair trial. Prosecutors scoffed, noting Blagojevich has hardly been publicity averse since his arrest on corruption charges back in December of 2008.