Monday, December 01, 2008

Criminal Complaint (5): Facts Establishing Probable Cause, Information Provided by Joseph Cari

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(Part 5: criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich and John Harris. It was posted 12-22-08, but has been back-dated to bump it down. Some emphasis has been added. Mentioned on this page: Rezko and the Rezko Trial, Chris Kelly, Stuart Levine, Lon Monk, JER (a real estate investment firm that was seeking an investment from the Teachers Retirement System), Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign (Cari was the national finance chair for the campaign), Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, Teachers Retirement System of Illinois (board of trustees).

__________ 2. Information Provided by Joseph Cari

25. As described in further detail in the following paragraphs, Joseph Cari testified under oath at the Rezko Trial on April 15 and 16, 2008.[5] Among other things, Cari testified that he had a conversation with ROD BLAGOJEVICH in which ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed Cari that ROD BLAGOJEVICH could use his power to award State of Illinois contracts in order to generate campaign contributions. Cari further testified that he had similar conversations with Rezko and Chris Kelly [6] , who specifically offered him State of Illinois work in exchange for Cari's assistance with various fundraising matters. In summary, and in relevant part, Cari testified as follows during the Rezko Trial:

26. Cari was a significant fundraiser for Democratic causes and was previously the national finance chair for Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. During his testimony, Cari described meetings that he had with ROD BLAGOJEVICH, Chris Kelly, Rezko, and Stuart Levine [7]. In particular, on approximately October 29, 2003, Cari, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, Kelly, Levine and others rode on an airplane arranged by Levine to a fundraiser in New York being hosted by Cari on behalf of ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the plane ride, Cari had a conversation with ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the conversation, Cari and ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed Cari's fundraising background and work as a national fundraiser. ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed his interest in running for President of the United States. During the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed Cari that it was easier for governors to solicit campaign contributions because governors had the ability to "award contracts" and give legal work, consulting work, and investment banking work to campaign contributors. ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed Cari that Rezko and Kelly were his point people in raising campaign contributions. Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Cari that there were State of Illinois contracts and other State of Illinois work that could be given to contributors who helped ROD BLAGOJEVICH, Rezko, and Kelly. Cari testified that ROD BLAGOJEVICH ended the conversation with Cari by informing Cari that Rezko and Kelly would follow up with Cari in relation to the discussion that had just occurred.

27. At one point during the October 29, 2003 New York fundraiser, Cari and Levine had a conversation. Cari testified that during the conversation, Levine informed Cari that there was a plan in place in the Blagojevich administration pursuant to which Rezko and Kelly would pick consultants to do business with State of Illinois boards, and thereafter, the consultants would be asked to make campaign contributions.

28. Cari also testified about a conversation he had with Rezko at Rezko's office. Levine was also present for the conversation. According to Cari, Rezko informed Cari that Rezko had a close relationship with the Blagojevich administration and Rezko had a role in picking consultants and law firms and other entities to get State of Illinois business. Rezko informed Cari that Rezko called ROD BLAGOJEVICH's chief of staff, Lon Monk, and Monk would help implement Rezko's choices for certain State of Illinois work. Rezko informed Cari that, in exchange for raising money for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, the Blagojevich administration would be financially helpful to Cari's business interests.

29. On approximately March 5, 2004, Cari met with Kelly at a restaurant. Cari testified that Kelly stated that Kelly was following up on Cari's conversations with ROD BLAGOJEVICH, Rezko, and Levine. Kelly then requested Cari's help in raising money on a national level for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Cari, as he had in the past, indicated he was not inclined to assist ROD BLAGOJEVICH. In response, Kelly pushed Cari to assist ROD BLAGOJEVICH and informed Cari that helping ROD BLAGOJEVICH would be good for Cari's business interests and that Cari "could have whatever [Cari] wanted," which Cari understood to be a reference to getting Cari's business interests whatever State of Illinois work Cari wanted if Cari helped raise money on a national level for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. The conversation ended shortly thereafter.

30. Cari testified that he eventually became involved in the attempted extortion of JER, a real estate investment firm that was seeking an investment from the Teachers Retirement System ("TRS"). Details regarding corruption at TRS involving one of its board members, Stuart Levine, are set forth below. Based on his conversations with ROD BLAGOJEVICH, Rezko, Kelly, and Levine, in which he was informed that consultants would be inserted into State of Illinois transactions and then solicited for campaign contributions, Cari believed that JER needed to hire a consultant. Cari testified that he informed employees of JER that they needed to hire a consultant and that in Illinois the "Governor and the people around the Governor" pick the consultants to be used on particular deals. Cari informed JER employees that if they did not hire the consultant then JER would not receive the money it was seeking from the State of Illinois. Ultimately, JER exposed the attempted extortion and received money from the State of Illinois.

[Footnote 5]: Cari testified pursuant to his obligations under a written plea agreement entered into with the government. In the plea agreement, Cari pled guilty to the attempted extortion of JER, an investment company attempting to obtain a State of Illinois investment. In exchange for his truthful cooperation, the government agreed to recommend at the time of Cari's sentencing that Cari receive a sentence of two and a half years in prison. The plea agreement allows his counsel to ask for any sentence, including probation. Prior to pleading guilty to attempted extortion, Cari had no criminal history.

[Footnote 6]: Like Rezko, Kelly was a principal campaign fundraiser for ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

[Footnote 7]: Stuart Levine was a Chicago-area businessman and an associate of Rezko and Kelly who served on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board and the board of trustees of the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois. Further information about Levine is provided below at paragraph 31 et seq.

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