Monday, December 01, 2008

Criminal Complaint (7): Facts Establishing Probable Cause, Blagojevich's knowledge of the Attempted Extortion of Capri Capital

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(Part 7: 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: Teachers Retirement System (TRS), Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, Chris Kelly, William Cellini, Thomas Rosenberg of Capri Capital (who threatens to expose the extortion of Capri), Dr. Robert Weinstein.

_4. BLAGOJEVICH's knowledge of the Attempted Extortion of Capri Capital

52. As described in more detail in the following paragraphs, when an attempt by Rezko, Levine, and others to extort a company doing business with the State of Illinois by withholding $220 million in State of Illinois funds until the company made a substantial campaign contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH failed, Rezko checked with ROD BLAGOJEVICH before Rezko and others agreed that the company would not again receive State of Illinois funds after it received the $220 million.

53. Capri Capital ("Capri") was a real estate investment management firm that had a long-standing relationship with TRS. In February 2004, Capri was expected to receive $220 million from TRS to manage. Levine originally acted to stall the allocation in February 2004. Eventually, however, the $220 million allocation was going to proceed until Levine, Rezko, Kelly, and Cellini conspired to extort Capri and Thomas Rosenberg, one of Capri's owners. In short, according to Levine, Levine and Rezko agreed that if Rosenberg wanted to get the $220 million for Capri, Rosenberg was either going to have to make a $1.5 million donation to ROD BLAGOJEVICH or pay Levine and Rezko a 1% fee.[14] According to Levine, and as confirmed on recorded conversations, both Kelly and Cellini joined the attempted extortion and played roles in the attempted extortion. As part of the extortion, Cellini informed Rosenberg that, in essence, Capri had not gotten its $220 million allocation because Rosenberg and Capri had not donated to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Rosenberg, realizing he was being extorted, threatened to expose the extortion to law enforcement. Thereafter, Levine, Rezko, Kelly, and Cellini backed off the extortionate threats, but agreed that after the $220 million allocation, neither Capri nor Rosenberg would get any further State of Illinois business.

54. Numerous conversations related to the extortion were captured on the court-authorized wiretaps on Levine's phones. In particular, on a recorded May 1, 2004 conversation, Levine spoke with Dr. Robert Weinstein, a co-schemer in Levine's criminal activities. During the call, Levine told Weinstein about his more recent meeting with Rezko Kelly. Levine described how Rezko said that Rosenberg would "have a choice. . . . you can raise a million and a half dollars for the fund raiser in June [for ROD BLAGOJEVICH] . . . or you can work out somethin' with [a consultant to pay a finder's fee]." During other conversations, Levine and Cellini discussed Rosenberg's reaction to learning that Rezko and Kelly were stalling Capri's $220 million allocation and that if Rosenberg did not want to deal with Rezko in terms of paying money, then Rosenberg could walk away from the $220 million allocation.

55. On May 8, 2004, Cellini and Levine had a recorded phone conversation after Rosenberg threatened to inform law enforcement about the attempted extortion of Capri for a campaign contribution for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the conversation, Cellini told Levine about how Rezko and Kelly had been "essentially hammerin' people for contracts uh, with with contracts for fundraising [Rezko and Kelly had been forcing individuals to make political contributions in order to win State of Illinois contracts]," how Cellini was a "nervous wreck" about it, and how Cellini and Levine needed to talk with Rezko and Kelly about Rosenberg's threats.

56. According to Levine, and as confirmed on the recorded conversations, several days later, Levine, Kelly, Rezko, and Cellini met (Cellini participated by phone). After discussing Rosenberg's threats, Rezko suggested that Rosenberg be given his $220 million allocation but never get further business from the State of Illinois. Kelly, however, still wanted to withhold the $220 million allocation.

57. On May 12, 2004, in a recorded conversation, Levine and Cellini discussed their meeting with Rezko and Kelly. In addition, Levine told Cellini about another conversation he had with Rezko. During Levine's conversation with Rezko, Rezko again advised Levine to solve the Rosenberg problem "with your head, not your heart." Levine noted to Cellini that "[t]he other guy says smack'em over the head," which Levine testified was a reference to Kelly's view that Rosenberg should be given a hard time in relation to the $220 million allocation. Cellini responded by saying, "I think what their position is, or at least Tony's is, okay so he may have to get something here, but he ain't gonna get anything more [Rosenberg would not get any more business from the State of Illinois or TRS]."

58. Later in the May 12, 2004 recorded call, Cellini asked Levine "did he tell you, too, that the big guy said Rosenberg means nothing to him." Levine testified that he understood Cellini to be stating that Cellini had been told by Rezko that ROD BLAGOJEVICH (the "big guy") was aware of the extortion, that Rosenberg meant nothing to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, and that Cellini was asking if Levine was told something similar about ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Levine responded to Cellini in the affirmative. Levine further testified that he, too, had a conversation with Rezko and Kelly regarding ROD BLAGOJEVICH's knowledge of the extortion. Levine testified that Rezko stated that Rezko had informed ROD BLAGOJEVICH of the extortion situation and that ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed that the $220 million allocation was the last business Rosenberg would get from the State of Illinois.[15]

[Footnote 14]: According to Rezko, he recalls agreeing that Rosenberg would have to make a campaign contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, but is not sure whether a finder's fee was discussed.

[Footnote 15]: Rezko has proffered that it was Kelly who informed ROD BLAGOJEVICH about the circumstances of Rosenberg's Capri allocation. As described below, numerous phone conversations have been intercepted in which ROD BLAGOJEVICH engages in ongoing criminal conduct. During certain of these conversations, including those of a clear criminal nature, ROD BLAGOJEVICH denies his involvement in illegal activity, including involvement in illegal activity with Rezko or in relation to the Capri transaction.

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