Blagojevich adviser pleads guilty, will aid prosecutors


CHICAGO — Another domino has fallen in the corruption case
against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Alonzo “Lon” Monk, one of the governor’s closest
friends and advisers, pleaded guilty Tuesday and agreed to aid prosecutors in
their attempt to convict the former governor. In exchange, he faces a
recommended sentence of two years in prison.

If his plea agreement is any indication, Monk — a former
chief of staff to the governor and his two-time campaign manager — could be a
valuable witness.

His 31-page plea agreement provides the most damning detail
yet about meetings between Blagojevich and his three closest confidants — Monk,
Antoin “Tony” Rezko and the late Christopher Kelly.

The indictment against Blagojevich last spring alleged that,
even before Blagojevich was first elected governor in 2002, the four had
discussed ways to profit from public corruption.

Monk’s plea agreement states that Rezko typically led the
discussions, and most of the ideas were intended to bring in hundreds of
thousands of dollars.

Monk disclosed that Blagojevich and others talked about how
to personally benefit from a real estate development Rezko had planned at Clark
Street and Roosevelt Road in Chicago.

“Rezko talked about different ways that defendant,
Blagojevich and Kelly could benefit from the (project), such as by having
Blagojevich’s wife (Patricia) work on marketing the project or by allowing
defendant to work on the project after (he) left state government,” the
plea agreement said.

The four also planned to make money through the refinancing
of $10 billion in pension obligation bonds, which the state contemplated in
2003, the document states.

Monk allegedly was involved in deciding which investment
firm would be chosen to be lead underwriter on the deal, with Rezko and Kelly
pushing a particular firm.

That arrangement was mentioned in the Blagojevich indictment
in the spring, and the Chicago Tribune has identified the company as Bear
Stearns, working with lobbyist Robert Kjellander, who has never been charged
with wrongdoing.


Rezko was to bring in $500,000 in the arrangement, the
document states. Originally the bonds were to be issued in several offerings,
according to the agreement, but government staff members wound up recommending
that all $10 billion be issued at once.

Monk arranged for a meeting on the issue with Blagojevich,
Kelly and other staff members, the document states.

At one point during the meeting, Blagojevich and Kelly
stepped away, it alleges. “Shortly after they returned to the group,
Blagojevich announced his decision to issue all $10 billion of the bonds at
once,” the agreement states.

Later that day, Kelly allegedly told Monk that Blagojevich
had been told they would make more money if the bond issue proceeded with the
$10 billion sale, all through the same firm.

Monk admitted he received $10,000 from Rezko about nine
separate times, beginning in 2004.

After entering his plea, Monk and his attorney left the
Dirksen U.S. Courthouse without comment.

Monk joins John Harris, another former Blagojevich chief of
staff, on the list of expected witnesses against the former governor. Harris
also has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify.

In addition, Rezko is expected to bolster the government’s
case and testify as well. Kelly, who apparently took his own life in a drug
overdose this fall, had pushed against government efforts to cooperate in the case.

Monk is a lobbyist and longtime friend of Blagojevich. He
served as general counsel to Blagojevich in Congress and managed the former
governor’s gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2006. After Blagojevich was
elected governor, Monk was his first chief of staff.

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