Saturday, April 4, 2009

Making a strong case out of circumstantial evidence

Before I get into the meat of this article I wish for the readers to keep the following in mind:

Broadway Bank of Chicago (which financed Gold Coast shown to the left)

On April 2, 2009 a 19 count indictment for “Federal Corruption charges alleging pervasive fraud” was returned against Rod R. Blagojevich and a circle of his closest aides and advisers by a “federal grand jury” according to a Press Release from the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Those who were indicted were Rod R. Blagojevich (Former Impeached Governor of Illinois), John Harris (Governor’s Chief of Staff since 2005), Alonzo Monk (long time associate of the Governor), Robert Blagojevich (Governor’s brother and chairman of his campaign fund), Christopher Kelly (Governors principal campaign fundraiser and also served as Chairman of the Governor’s campaign fund) and William F. Cellini, Sr., (raised significant funds for Blagojevich).

This indictment was the result of the arrest of the Governor and John Harris on December 9, 2008 as well as a culmination of previous investigations that had led to the arrests and convictions of Antoin (Tony) Rezko, Stewart Levine (who has already pleaded guilty and has cooperated with Federal Investigators) and attorneys Joseph Cari and Steven Loren (TRS outside counsel).

The case involves the corruption of two state regulatory boards. The investigation, dubbed “Operation Board Games,” by the Feds, began in December 2003, based on information supplied by an informant.

The name “Operation Board Games” was used because of the two Illinois State boards (Teachers Pension System, which administers pensions and benefits for all Illinois teachers except for those in Chicago, and the Health Facilities Planning Board, which approves all proposals for construction projects that involve medical facilities in Illinois) that were corrupted for monetary and political gain.

One of the main players in “Operation Board Games” who pleaded guilty was Stewart Levine who was appointed to both of the above boards by the Governor and was instrumental in the scheme, but more importantly was instrumental as the Governments star witness in the Rezko trial that resulted in his conviction.

As a result of Levine receiving a plea deal he had to cooperate in the US Attorneys investigation on all fronts concerning the corruption and graft occurring in the State of Illinois that he (Levine) was involved with. One of those cases that did not involve the two State Boards mention above did involve a different Board that Levine sat on. The testimony he gave regarding that case led to the arrest and finally the guilty plea of longtime Chicago Alderman Ed Vrdolyak.

“On May 10, 2007, Vrdolyak was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors later added additional wire fraud charges, and the final indictment included a total of eight counts. The case centered around property that was sold by the Chicago Medical School. The key witness against Vrdolyak was to be Stuart Levine, a partner in the alleged scheme. Prosecutors charged that Vrdolyak and Levine devised a scheme to use Levine's position on the school's board to steer the $15 million sale of a school building to Smithfield Properties - a developer with ties to Vrdolyak. It was alleged that the two arranged a $1.5 million kickback from Smithfield to Vrdolyak in return for Levine's support.” – ABC news link above,0,1587042.story

So why do I bring up this unrelated case and how does it relate to Obama (remember “Broadway Bank of Chicago)?

Just as Obama has always managed to be connected to Blagojevich controversy by a spiderweb of associations with many of the players while keeping himself at arms length from scrutiny by pledging only cursory contact and always denying any intimate knowledge of the conspiracy, it still haunts him as “guilt by association” accusations.

These are the types of accusations that have allowed him to demonize those who link him to most of those involved in the controversy in one way or another.

For instance, Tony Rezko sold the Obama’s their Hyde Park home and Obama dismissed it as just “a bone head thing to do” and only saw Rezko occasionally. Keep in mind that Rezko has been convicted of his crimes that are now reaching to the former Governor of Illinois (who Obama served in the “inner circle” of Blagojevich’s first election campaign in 2002 and again in 2006 re-election).

But we know that Obama has had a long time relationship (personal) that spanned back to his college days when Rezko first offered him a job. This job offered was spurned by Obama (or was it?) and instead went to work, directly out of college, for Allison Davis at the law firm of Davis Miner Barnhill.

We now know that Allison Davis eventually left the firm to form a company with Rezko (New Kenwood, LLC).
We also know that Obama had written letters in 1998 to “Housing Officials” in support of a proposed apartment building for Senior Citizens located four blocks outside Obama’s district that favored the Rezko-Davis project.

Alex Giannoulias and Obama.

In 2006, after Barack Obama vouched/endorsed him, Alex Giannoulias was elected Illinois State Treasurer. Alex Giannoulias and his family own Broadway Bank (a reputed mob bank) that has other ties to Obama, besides the endorsement he gave Giannoulias in 2006. Broadway was the bank that controlled Obama’s 2004 Senate Campaign funds as well as the bank that loaned the money for his Obama’s first townhouse in 1997 (then Rezko sold the Obama’s his mansion). In the run-up to Obama’s 2004 Senatorial campaign, Broadway Bank pledged to put $1MM of the family’s money into his coffers.

The case I mentioned above that netted guilty pleas from Levine and Vrdolyak for the “Gold Coast” purchase and kickback scheme was developed by a company called “The Prime Group” and Broadway bank had loaned ($9MM) part of the financing of that development. In addition, “The Prime Group” gave a $25,000 donation to Giannoulias campaign fund one month prior to getting the $9 million dollar loan.

"It's a beautiful building," said Michael W. Reschke, chairman and CEO of The Prime Group.

So, here we have Stuart Levine who is tied to the hip with Blagojevich in the Operation Board Games and is also tied to Gold Coast who has ties to Giannoulias who has ties to Obama who has ties to Broadway Bank who has ties to Tony Rezko and Allison Davis. This is a spider-web indeed!

Broadway bank is also the bank of Tony Rezko. In May 2008 a felony arrest warrant was issued in Nevada that claims Rezko wrote checks (for gambling debts) to Caeser’s palace totaling $250,000 and $200,000 to Bally’s (all of which bounced) and the bank account that these checks were written just happened to be Broadway Bank.

Though it does not appear that Obama will be, or is currently a target of investigation in the Operations Board games prosecution or the “Blogojevich Senate Seat bidding” case regardless of his many ties to all the major players, he will probably see some heat with his ties to Broadway bank and his townhouse and possibly his Rezko Mansion deals.

It is ironic that Obama will probably go unscathed in the “Board games” prosecution because Obama contributed a great deal that allowed it to happen. I speak of Obama’s Illinois Senate role when he pushed through the legislation that reduced the number of Illinois Health Facilities Planning board from 15 down to 9 that allowed Blagojevich to pack the board with a majority of 5 to control it. The majority of those 5 members gave heavily to Obama’s campaign after they were appointed by Blagojevich.

In addition to facilitating this change of Board membership through legislative means that utilized Obama’s position on the Committee responsible for the review of the legislation, he was also tasked with vetting the 5 candidates (including Levine) during the “confirmation hearings” of Blagojevich’s picks which sailed through the Illinois Senate. Obama was one of the first recipients of “tainted kickback money” from Operation Board games when he received $20,000 from a bank account held by the pizza business Rezko owned.

Obama wants the public to believe that his associations were merely circumstantial and random in nature but, like the “Fibonacci Sequence”, it is a pattern that is detectable if you look at all the evidence that is being amassed that appears random in the singular but collectively paints a true sequence of events that is interrelated.

Obama, Blagojevich, Emanuel, Rezko, Giannoulias, Allison Davis, Valerie Jarrett, Robert Harris, William Cellini, Sr., Broadway Bank, Campaign Contributions followed by political appointments, political endorsements followed by campaign contributions, land deals and kickbacks.

According to Evelyn Pringle’s article “Barack Obama – Subplots of Operation Board Games states “for instance - Fortunee Massuda, another participant identified in the “pay-to-play” schemes, contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich compared to $2,000 to Obama.

Michel Malek, another participant, threw $25,000 to Blagojevich and $10,500 to Obama.

Ali Ata, another guy listed as a co-schemer in one indictment, was made executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, and he contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich and $5,000 to Obama.

Jay Wilton, identified by prosecutors as a major contributor to Blagojevich, is the owner of Wilton Partners, a construction company in California. He donated $50,000 to Blagojevich shortly after his firm cinched an $83 million contract with the state to refurbish the Illinois tollway’s oasis rest stops. Wilton also gave $5,000 to Obama.

Joe Cari donated $15,000 to Blagojevich but only gave $1,335 to Obama.

A trial exhibit produced by an FBI agent, identifies major contributors who donated $1.43 million to Blagojevich between 2001 and 2004.

The Chicago Sun-Times compared the exhibit to government campaign records on Obama and found he received more than $220,000 from many of the same donors between 2001 and 2004.

John Roger, the head of Ariel Capital, an investment firm that ended up with major money from the pension funds, is on the FBI’s summary of Blagojevich’s top contributors. He also gave Obama $25,000.

Rogers is a member of the finance committee for Obama’s presidential campaign. Rogers also served on the campaign finance committee for Obama’s US Senate run with Tony and Rita Rezko, Allison Davis, and Myron “Mike” Cherry.Mike Cherry is listed in the indictment for the pay-to-pay schemes and the FBI shows he gave Blagojevich $25,000 in 2003.

Daniel Mahru, a major player in the Chicago slumlord racket, has reportedly flipped in the Board Games case and is cooperating with the prosecution. He is the owner of Automatic Ice Company, which donated $10,000 to Blagojevich. Mahru gave $5,000 to Obama.

Attorney, Jack Carriglio, contributed $25,000 to Blagojevich and was appointed to the TRS Board. He also gave $1000 to Obama.”

One thing is clear, Obama has brought his “Chicago A Game to Washington, DC”. Hopefully, his web of deceit will ensnare him in a legal web of intrigue that will result in becoming neighbors once again with Rezko, this time in an adjoining prison cell.

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