Monday, December 01, 2008

Criminal Complaint (4): Facts Establishing Probable Cause, Information Provided by Ali Ata

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(Part 4: criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich and John Harris. It was posted 12-19-08, but has been back-dated to bump it down. Some emphasis has been added. Mentioned on this page: Ali Ata, Friends of Blagojevich, Antoin Rezko and the Rezko trial, Stuart Levine, Capital Development Board, Teachers Retirement System, Illinois Finance Authority ("IFA").)


A. Evidence Concerning the Solicitation and Receipt of Campaign Contributions in Return for Official Acts by ROD BLAGOJEVICH Prior to October 2008

____________1. Information Provided by Ali Ata

16. As described in more detail in the following paragraphs, Ali Ata testified under oath in the spring of 2008 that Ata discussed with ROD BLAGOJEVICH a potential appointment to a high-level position with the State of Illinois while a $25,000 donation check to Friends of Blagojevich from Ata was sitting on a table in front of ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Ata further testified that later, after Ata made another substantial contribution to Friends of Blagojevich, ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Ata that he was aware of the donation, that he understood that Ata would be joining his administration, and that Ata better get a job "where [Ata] can make some money."

17. Ata is a businessman who, in May 2008, as part of a cooperation agreement with the government, pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI and to tax fraud.[2] Pursuant to his cooperation agreement, the government has interviewed Ata extensively regarding a number of topics, including his knowledge of and involvement in fundraising for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. In addition, Ata testified under oath at the criminal trial of Antoin Rezko (the "Rezko Trial") in May 2008.[3] Portions of Ata's testimony are directly relevant to the current investigation. In summary, and in relevant part, Ata testified as follows during the Rezko Trial:

18. In or about 2000 or 2001, at a meeting with Ata, ROD BLAGOJEVICH who at the time was a member of the United States House of Representatives, told Ata that he was contemplating a run for higher office and asked for Ata's support. Ata agreed to support him. Thereafter, Ata observed that Rezko was close to ROD BLAGOJEVICH and was very involved in fund raising for ROD BLAGOJEVICH's campaign, including overseeing Ata's own fund raising efforts on behalf of ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

19. In or about 2002, Ata had several conversations with Rezko regarding the possibility of a high level appointment for Ata in state government should ROD BLAGOJEVICH be elected. At Rezko's direction, Ata put together a list of three state agencies to which he would be interested in being appointed, including the Capital Development Board.

20. In or about August 2002, Ata held a small fund raising event for ROD BLAGOJEVICH that ROD BLAGOJEVICH attended. In advance of that fund raising event, Ata committed to Rezko that Ata would raise $25,000 at that event, which he eventually did, personally contributing at least approximately $5,000.

21. Later that year, Rezko approached Ata for additional monetary support for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Ata agreed to contribute $25,000 in additional monies to the campaign of ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Ata, subsequently and by prior arrangement with Rezko, brought a check in this amount to Rezko's offices on Elston Avenue in Chicago. After he arrived at Rezko's offices, Ata was greeted by Rezko to whom he handed the check in an envelope. Rezko, carrying the check, ushered Ata into a conference room where he met with Rezko and ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Rezko placed the envelope containing Ata's $25,000 check to ROD BLAGOJEVICH's campaign on the conference room table between himself and ROD BLAGOJEVICH and stated to ROD BLAGOJEVICH that Ata had been a good supporter and a team player and that Ata would be willing to join ROD BLAGOJEVICH's administration. ROD BLAGOJEVICH expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that Ata had been a good supporter and good friend. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, in Ata's presence, asked Rezko if he (Rezko) had talked to Ata about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had.[4]

22. After this meeting, Ata completed an application for a state appointment. In or about early 2003, Rezko informed Ata that he was going to be appointed to head the state Capital Development Board. Rezko subsequently informed Ata that this position was going to someone else and that another position would have to be found for Ata. Later, Rezko discussed an opportunity for Ata with the newly formed Illinois Finance Authority ("IFA").

23. In or about July 2003, Rezko asked Ata to make an additional $50,000 contribution to the campaign of ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Ata agreed to contribute the same amount as he had previously, namely $25,000. Ata made this contribution on or about July 25, 2003, by check payable to ROD BLAGOJEVICH's campaign. Ata gave this check to Rezko. Thereafter, Ata had a conversation with ROD BLAGOJEVICH at a large fund raising event at Navy Pier. During this conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Ata that Ata had been a good supporter, indicated that ROD BLAGOJEVICH was aware that Ata had made another substantial donation to ROD BLAGOJEVICH's campaign, and told Ata that he understood that Ata would be joining his administration. Ata responded that he was considering taking a position, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that it had better be a job where Ata could make some money.

24. Ata was surprised by this comment by ROD BLAGOJEVICH and said something to Rezko about it the next time Ata saw Rezko. When Ata told Rezko that ROD BLAGOJEVICH had said words to the effect of, "it had better be a job where you can make some money," Rezko responded that he was not surprised and had heard ROD BLAGOJEVICH say things like that before.

[Footnote 2]: Under the terms of the plea agreement, if Ata continues to completely and truthfully cooperate, the government will make a motion pursuant to 5K1.1 for a reduction from his 12-18 month applicable guideline range. The plea agreement allows his counsel to ask for any sentence, including probation. Other than his felony convictions in May 2008, Ata has no criminal history.

[Footnote 3]: Rezko was a principal fundraiser for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. His criminal trial focused on allegations that Rezko and Stuart Levine, a member of the board of trustees of the Teachers Retirement System and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, engaged in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois of Levine's honest services by demanding kickbacks, as well as political contributions to the campaign of ROD BLAGOJEVICH, in return for the exercise of Levine's official influence. Relevant evidence presented at the Rezko trial is summarized below.

[Footnote 4]: Rezko, whose reliability has yet to be fully determined, has confirmed to the government in proffer sessions the essence of Ata's testimony regarding Ata's meeting with ROD BLAGOJEVICH, but has a different recollection regarding the timing and chronology of certain events and only recalls asking Ata for one $25,000 check for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Rezko's proffers have been substantial but are not complete and the government's efforts to fact check and corroborate Rezko's proffered information are not yet complete. Rezko has proffered with the government in hopes of receiving a recommendation from the government for a reduced sentence. During the proffer sessions, Rezko at times has provided accounts that differ from those of other witnesses, including Ata, but in broad terms Rezko's account incriminates ROD BLAGOJEVICH in a "pay to play" criminal scheme. Because the government is not yet satisfied that Rezko's accounts are full and complete, the government is not relying on Rezko's account for probable cause. The government simply notes that while Rezko's account varies at times from those of other witnesses, Rezko's account of ROD BLAGOJEVICH's activity, on balance, would add to the probable cause set forth herein, not subtract. Where Rezko's proffered recollection differs significantly from those of witnesses upon whose testimony the government is relying, this affidavit notes those differences.

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