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Former first lady imperiled; More on Trib/RRB talks

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2009

* Unsurprising

A federal grand jury probing corruption under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the last two weeks has called witnesses to testify specifically about his wife, defense sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The recent questioning has centered in part on Patti Blagojevich’s real estate dealings and comes as the feds close in on an indictment involving the ex-governor and others.

You’d think she’d want to save herself, since her husband seems intent on going down in a brilliant, white-hot ball of flames.

The indictment has an April 7 deadline but could come Thursday — the day that grand jury meets.

What’s your over/under on the maximum number of prison years in the indictment? I figure since Chris Kelly is looking at something like 800 years, then RRB ought to at least be facing 10,000 years.

Do they even let you out of prison to be buried if you get that many years?

Defense lawyers said witnesses were questioned about Patti Blagojevich, her former firm, River Realty, and commissions she was paid on real estate deals involving political supporters, donors or state contractors. The former first lady took part in more than half a dozen real estate dealings with convicted businessman Tony Rezko, sources said.

Go read the whole thing.

* Meanwhile, Blagojevich had a “code name” for the Tribune/Wrigley Field deal: Project Elwood

Early on a Sunday evening in December, e-mails went out among state officials who had just learned that financially strapped Tribune Co. was about to file for bankruptcy protection.

“This could measurably complicate Project Elwood,” wrote William Brandt, chairman of the Illinois Finance Authority. […]

Two days later, the plan grew far more complicated when Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges. Among the charges were allegations that he was trying to extort Tribune Co.—the owner of Wrigley, the Cubs and the Chicago Tribune—over the state purchase.

The “plan grew far more complicated when Blagojevich was arrested” line is quite the understatement. But, hey, it’s the Trib reporting on Tribune Co.

So, was the governor calling in plays during games or something? Check this out…

Blagojevich’s telephone log shows several calls to members of the team, including manager Lou Piniella, coach Larry Rothschild and John McDonough, the team’s former president who is now with the Chicago Blackhawks

…Adding… Substitute “Mexico” or a country with no extradition treaty for “Chicago” and adjust the mileage accordingly, and perhaps this will be RRB and a friend come Thursday? The “real” Project Elwood perhaps? Just sayin…


* Related…

* Rod Blagojevich indictment could bring more defendants - Former governor’s brother, wife and campaign committee, as well as lobbyist Lon Monk, are possible targets

* Blagojevich takes unreality show to radio airwaves

- Posted by Rich Miller        


36 Comments
  1. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:03 am:

    Is nothing sacred to Blago? Messing with the Cubs was bad enough but taking the name of the only surviving Blues Brother in vain… that’s going too far :)


  2. - Excessively rabid - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:06 am:

    Burying him in prison is an insult to prisons….


  3. - Barry Zuckercorn - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:07 am:

    The story about Patty Blagojevich - are you sure about that? I thought they couldn’t arrest a husband and wife for the same crime.


  4. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:08 am:

    “We’re on a mission from Rod.”


  5. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:08 am:

    Normally going after spouses doesn’t play well.

    But releasing the tapes trashed Patti Blagojevich’s (nee Mell) reputation and made her less sympathetic.

    If releasing the tapes was planned to hurt PB’s reputation, did Fitz’s team do anything illegal or unethical?


  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:09 am:

    ===I thought they couldn’t arrest a husband and wife for the same crime. ===

    Where did you ever get that idea? What if they robbed a bank together?


  7. - Shh - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:13 am:

    @ Barry — I think you’re confused. A husband can’t be forced to testify against his wife and vice versa. But they can both be charged with the same crime.


  8. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:14 am:

    Now I have this mental picture of RRB cackling like Dr. Evil did when he came up with names like “The Alan Parsons Project” and “Preparation H” for his world conquest schemes.


  9. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:17 am:

    An interesting story about the husband/wife Fastow duo:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/exenron-boss-swaps-prison-cell-with-his-wife-498061.html

    So, yeah, it’s possible.


  10. - Stu - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:20 am:

    “Project Elwood”…makes sense since Elwood Blue’s Illinois driver’s license listed 1060 W. Addison as his home address.


  11. - Scooby - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:22 am:

    Was “Project 100 Years of Loserdom” already taken?


  12. - Secret Square - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    My fearless prediction:

    Number of counts against Blago in indictment: 15-20

    Number of other defendants: 4 (Patti, Robert, Monk and Harris)

    Total theoretical/potential prison time for Blago: at least 1,200 years


  13. - South Side Mike - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:27 am:

    47th Ward, that’s too funny. So who gets to be the Penguin?


  14. - You Go Boy - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    I know it’s mean spirited, but remember as a kid how you would sit with siblings/friends and joyfully speculate what Santa might bring? Remember the fun that was? Let’s do that talking about how many years he/she spent in prison.
    A cynicism developed beyond the early years and nurtured by people exactly like Blago.


  15. - Ghost - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    === Do they even let you out of prison to be buried if you get that many years? ===

    Depends on whether the prison serves soylent green….


  16. - Justice - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:47 am:

    This all could have played out much differently had they all lived in the Mansion. I predict 18 counts for bouffant daddy and 180 years in prison. I predict 4 counts for Patti and 10 years in prison.


  17. - HoBoSkillet - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    @Southside Mike - The Penguin’s gotta be Quinn! “And don’t come back - Until you’ve redeemed yourselves….”


  18. - Jake from Elwood - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:21 am:

    First a disclaimer. Mr. Fitzgerald, I swear that I had nothing to do with this Blago-Tribune fiasco.

    When I read this story the first thing I thought is now I have to come up with a new handle. Perhaps “Cinnamon Man” or “Secret Circle”. I obviously have to give it some thought, but my current penname has soured on me. Rats. Thanks alot Blago, you’ve screwed me over once again.


  19. - Bobs yer - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Let’s wait and see if Zell realizes his $980MM tax free gain from the sale of the Cubs. All this stadium stuff was tied to that.

    Bet he does. That’ll be the real crime.


  20. - Cranky Old Man - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Rich and Shh, it’s an Arrested Develpoment reference. Just watched that episode over again a couple days ago.


  21. - Dan S, a Voter, Taxpayer and Cubs Fan - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:33 am:

    Jake, it just proves that anything with Milorads print on it can and will explode.


  22. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    The over/under on years for Rod 1100 or perhaps a googol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googol


  23. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:41 am:

    The Patti problem is the story of Chicago politics. If Rod got 6 figures, she should get 8 for a book deal. Consider who she is, and her family ties combined with the implications of flipping. Rod is gone, what else does she have to offer Fitz. He does not need her for a conviction. Convicting Patti, may make the go along spouses of crooked politicians have a moment of pause. She was operating a legitimate business as a front to launder proceeds from a criminal enterprise. This sounds like a RICO case to me. (life) This all goes back to who else is involved. Again, Rod is going to face 800 years(I’ll take the over) who who else can she give up. Will Patti take down the Machine? Will she go to prison for the rest of her life to protect Madigan, Daley, and Daddy?


  24. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:41 am:

    Why do I see Rod as Maury Sline in project Elwood…
    “I don’t think you are going to see dime one, but if you I want a taste”


  25. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 11:47 am:

    ===Will she go to prison for the rest of her life to protect Madigan, Daley, and Daddy?===

    As if she knows anything about MJM or RMD. And she won’t turn on daddy. The feds want her husband. That’s where the deal is.


  26. - soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    Thank you, Todd Lighty and Robert Becker, for demonstrating to RRB what “testicular virility” really means. It takes real, honest-to-god courage to put your job on the line with a story like this. I can imagine that some editors at the Trib got some angry phone calls this morning. Well God love you guys for doing the right thing, and putting the people’s right to know ahead of your own careers.


  27. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    All this Patti stuff could have been avoided if Blago didn’t try his best to make a mockery out of the feds. Right after Rod was arrested, Patrick Collins stated in an interview on Chicago Tonight the feds really don’t want to go after her, saying she had no elected authority and probably wasn’t a target.

    Blago brought this on his family, including his brother, by refusing to be cooperative. He is as unchivalrous a conman as has ever come down the Illinois political pipe.

    In his insatiable self aggrandizing need for publicity and attention he has jeopardized the freedom of his wife and brother and brought about the possibility that his children will be missing both parents.

    What type of person could do that to his family?


  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===What type of person could do that to his family? ===

    An insane one.


  29. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 2:07 pm:

    I like Dick, but if Patti has info on her dad, why shouldn’t Team Fitz squeeze her?

    Team Fitz needs some witnesses to flip on Blagojevich, but with the tapes they don’t need everybody to flip on Blagojevich.

    If Patti can expand the scope of the investigation to expose illegal quid pro quo in hiring in the Mell organization, Fitz would be doing less than his job to use her this way.


  30. - PPHS - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 2:25 pm:

    The thing for Patty to do is tell the truth. The feds gets really mad when you lie.

    How do these people (Patty and Rod) find each other?


  31. - Wacker Drive - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 2:27 pm:

    Rod’s so clever…..


  32. - Hair today, gone.... - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 2:40 pm:

    =How do these people (Patty and Rod) find each other?=

    Patti had just broken up with a boyfriend when she met Rod. Prior to that, Rod was sniffing around a bunch of elected officials who had single daughters. If fast Eddy had a daughter, he’d be the father-in-law. A few pols told Rod to scram and stay away from thier daughters. He caught Patti on the rebound and Mell bought this guy hook line and sinker.

    The bigger question in my mind is why didn’t she leave this goofball years agao?


  33. - Anon - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 3:43 pm:

    Blago’s hair color is looking more and more unnatural. And not a hint of gray.


  34. - cover - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 4:43 pm:

    When did Blago call Piniella and Rothschild? During the Cubs’ ill-fated playoff series? If so, that might explain their collapse.


  35. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 6:19 pm:

    I bet she makes a deal. Certainly her father will insist on and foot the bill for her own lawyer. Maybe an indictment will be the cold slap in the face that revives the self-preservation instinct.


  36. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Mar 31, 09 @ 6:28 pm:

    I’m sorry about Mrs. B and the potential impact on her kids already and should she be indicted. By all accounts she is an excellent mom. This is truly sad.

    On the other hand, what WAS she thinking. She is, after all, a skilled pol’s daughter and also bright by most accounts. Could she have been so imbued with Chicago Machine culture that she was incapable of seeing the huge risks she was taking in her real estate ventures. Or maybe she didn’t notice that the world is changing just a teensy bit in the area of government corruption We are all subject to distorted thinking and mistakes based on that thinking so maybe what we are seeing with both Mrs. B. and her husband is, sigh, greed and stupidity that seems, well, normal for those who live in and have been formed by Chicago Machine politics.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Afternoon updates
* Hospitals back removal of income tax sunsets
* The other strategy
* *** UPDATED 1x *** Quinn onboard; Rauner latches onto term limits proposal
* Because Illinois is a real battleground state
* Quinn dodges Rahm question on "Morning Joe"
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