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Archive for December 17th, 2008

Legal Observers Say Feds Case Against Gov. Blagojevich May Not Be a Sure Thing

By Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

At first blush the case against scandal-plagued Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich would appear to be overwhelming.
Not so fast say some criminal defense lawyers. Though they say the public evidence against Blagojevich appears strong –hours and hours of damning conversations — truth is the tapes are only talk.
Plus, the governor has hired a formidable attorney in Ed Gensen, who represented singer R. Kelly in a child pornography trial that resulted in the entertainer’s acquittal.
The federal government, in a criminal complaint, accuses Blagojevich of trying to sell the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama along with other public corruption.
But some attorneys see the allegations as being tough to prove.
“The tapes are just tapes,” said Michael Helfand of Chicago-based FindGreatLawyers.com.
Helfand suggests that a possible defense for Blagojevich could be that nothing actually happened in terms of the selling of the Senate seat; No quid pro quo.
“The logical defense is he was joking or talking smack in the office,” Helfand said. “It’s one thing to say the guy is slimy,” he said and another to prove he’s criminal. Another tactic the defense might try, he said, is to challenge whether the government had probable cause to secure wiretaps.

Read more »

Breaking News: Illinois Supreme Court Refuses to Remove Gov. Blagojevich

The Governor is not going to roll over on this, and the feds can expect a battle as well. To quote Sean Connery in the movie the Untouchables: “It’s the Chicago Way.” Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan expressed disappointment.

Gov. Blagojevich/official photo

Gov. Blagojevich/official photo

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS-tv) — The Illinois Supreme Court rejected an attempt to have Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared unfit to hold office on Wednesday.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued his legal and political troubles are keeping him from performing his duties, but the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the challenge without issuing further comment.
The latest development came just hours after Governor Blagojevich told reporters that he is “dying to talk” about the case against him.
The attorney general presented her case to the state’s highest court last Friday. On Wednesday, the justices wrote that Lisa Madigan’s “temporary restraining order and or preliminary injunction is denied”. There was no further comment by the court.
For Full Story

Read Statement From Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

Read Sen. Durbin’s Letter Asking the Gov to Resign

D.C. Man Charged in Historical Minnesota Fire Commits Suicide

A tragedy ends with another tragedy.

By Clarence Williams and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON –A 64-year-old Northwest Washington man who was charged with causing the largest wildfire in Minnesota in 90 years apparently shot and killed himself yesterday in his back yard.
Stephen G. Posniak, an outdoorsman, retired federal employee and former advisory neighborhood commissioner, died at his home on Windom Place, according to police sources and his lawyer.
The apparent suicide came the day after a federal magistrate judge in Minneapolis denied motions challenging key aspects of the charges filed in the 2007 Ham Lake fire, which burned for days, destroying more than 75,000 acres.
According to the Justice Department, Posniak was charged Oct. 20 in Minneapolis with setting timber afire, leaving a fire unattended and unextinguished, and giving false information to United States Forest Service officers. A trial was to begin next month.
For Full Story

Read Indictment

OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

Convicted Financier Tony Rezko Could Hurt Illinois Governor

Gov. Blagojevich/official photo

Gov. Blagojevich/official photo

Tony Rezko could help the feds build their case against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It’s likely the convicted felon is dishing up dirt on somebody.

BY NATASHA KORECKI
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors asked a judge Monday to indefinitely postpone Tony Rezko’s scheduled Oct. 28 sentencing on corruption charges, acknowledging they are engaged in talks with the former top political fund-raiser for Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Blagojevich and others “that could affect . . . sentencing.”
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported in August that Rezko might be cooperating with prosecutors. Since then, the talks, and the prosecution’s efforts to confirm information Rezko has provided, have been an open secret. In September, sources close to the investigation confirmed the talks to the Sun-Times but said there was no deal with Rezko.
In court filings, prosecutors said they are in discussions with Tony Rezko, who was convicted of corruption charges.
The 53-year-old Wilmette businessman, who at one time was a top adviser to Blagojevich, was convicted in June of wide-ranging corruption tied to state deals. He could face a lengthy prison term and still faces two more criminal trials.
Several criminal-defense lawyers, who spoke to the Sun-Times only on the condition they not be named, said prosecutors have asked to interview or reinterview their clients about allegations that Blagojevich’s campaign took contributions in exchange for state contracts or appointments
For Full Story

JetBlue a Little Blue Over Boozed-Up Passenger and Diverted Flight

Some passengers are better off sticking to Diet Coke and pretzels instead of booze — especially when it means diverting a flight.

By Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI says a JetBlue flight headed from New York to Burbank, Calif., landed in Salt Lake City after an intoxicated passenger caused a disruption.
The FBI’s Salt Lake office says about 130 passengers and crew got off of Flight 359 in Salt Lake late Monday night and were re-screened.
Read More

Gambino Family Mobster in Fla. Sentenced to 9 Years

Even the New York mob likes a little sunshine and a good early bird special. But Gambino mobster Vincent Artuso, 64,  is going off to a place where most people would rather not retire.

By The Associated Press
MIAMI — A captain of the Gambino crime family’s South Florida operations, who prosecutors say has been linked to an infamous hit that led to John Gotti’s rise to power, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in federal prison in a major real estate fraud case.
U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks imposed the sentence on Vincent Artuso, 64, following his conviction in October on 41 fraud and racketeering charges involving a lengthy scam against ADT Security Services Inc. The scheme involved several crooked real estate deals that cost ADT, which is part of Tyco International Ltd., at least $11 million and possibly much more, prosecutors said.
For Full Story