POLITICAL CORRUPTION
Blagojevich, Burris, Rezko and Kelly
Bookies - The Mob - Gambling Debts - Campaign Contributions
2.17.09

 

Former fundraiser pleads not guilty to corruption
IL - Kelly [Blagojevich's former chief fundraiser] allegedly used $1.1 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds to pay personal expenses, including $383,000 in gambling debts, the indictment said. Kelly pleaded guilty last month to other charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service by using corporate funds and money from third parties to pay thousands of dollars in gambling debts and personal expenses.
www.google.com / By MIKE ROBINSON / february 11, 2009

Illinois senators get earful with Blagojevich tapes
IL - Despite Blagojevich's absence, his impeachment jurors were able to listen to FBI wiretaps of conversations in which he seems to demand campaign contributions in exchange for signing legislation. One person on the recordings assures Blagojevich that a horse-racing track owner "is good for it" and just has to decide "what accounts to get it out of." Another assures him the track owner knows he must keep his "commitment" soon. Before the tapes were played Tuesday, an FBI agent vouched for the accuracy of those and other Blagojevich quotes that were included in the federal criminal complaint against him.
www.kansascity.com / The Associated Press / By CHRISTOPHER WILLS / Jan. 27, 2009

Feds may not be done with gov's go-to guy Kelly
IL - Kelly had been finance director of Blagojevich's successful campaign -- the main man helping raise the money... In the early days, Blagojevich made Kelly an unpaid adviser in his administration, his influence so blatant that legislators made him file an official economic-disclosure statement as a "special government agent." The man Blagojevich entrusted to represent him on gambling issues was a high-roller in hock to a mob bookie. According to his guilty plea, Kelly hid the use of $150,000 from his roofing company to pay off that debt and also disguised using company funds to pay a separate $147,500 gambling debt to a Las Vegas casino.
www.suntimes.com / Sun-Times / BY MARK BROWN / January 17, 2009

Ill. gov's former top fundraiser pleads guilty
IL - Impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich's former chief fundraiser [Kelly] has admitted he illegally used corporate funds to pay gambling debts and personal expenses.
www.kansascity.com / The Associated Press / Jan. 16, 2009

Politically-connected developer wins 10th Illinois license
IL - During the gaming hearing, Ed Duffy, Waukegan's managing partner, said Cellini had sold his interest in the venture some 18 months earlier. Cellini has been charged with plotting to squeeze a firm seeking business with the state for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
www.gamingtoday.com / December 30, 2008

Roland Burris' back in spotlight
IL - Burris, 71, has 20 years of experience in state government, including three terms as comptroller and one as attorney general, but failed in three tries for governor. He's a registered lobbyist, Recent clients include the Council of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers and Ho-Chunk Nation's failed attempt to open a casino in Hoffman Estates.
www.dailyherald.com / Daily Herald / By Robert McCoppin / 12/30/2008

Suburban Chicago casino developer well known
IL - Waukegan Gaming managing partner Ed Duffy has told the gaming board that Springfield powerbroker William Cellini had sold his ownership interest in a predecessor company that wanted to open a Waukegan casino. Cellini, who Duffy said had sold his interest [Waukegan Gaming] about 18 months ago, has been charged with plotting to squeeze a firm seeking business with the state for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
www.forbes.com / Associated Press / By DEANNA BELLAND / 12.26.08

Affidavit Alleges Blagojevich Sought Racing Official's Contribution
IL - Deep in the federal affidavit accusing Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat is a brief passage about a state law -- passed twice -- to prop up Illinois's horse-racing industry. The affidavit alleges Gov. Blagojevich attempted to pressure a horse-racing official for a $100,000 campaign contribution in return for the governor's signature on the legislation. Those records show in Illinois's horse-track community -- consisting of five live tracks controlled by four owners -- one group of owners made large campaign contributions to Gov. Blagojevich. Maywood and Balmora... Tracks... Gave $95,000 to Mr. Blagojevich...
online.wsj.com/ By TAMARA AUDI and DOUGLAS BELKIN / DECEMBER 24, 2008

Blagojevich was bookie, says federal informant
IL - Cooley says that before Rod Blagojevich got into politics he was a bookmaker on the North Side who regularly paid the Chicago mob to operate. "When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs. He was paying street tax to the mob out there," said Robert Cooley, federal informant. Cooley said he reported to federal authorities nearly two decades ago that Rod Blagojevich had been operating an illegal sports gambling business.
abclocal.go.com / By Chuck Goudie / December 17, 2008

Blagojevich signs casino impact fee legislation
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation on Monday that requires four casinos in the state to pay a percentage of their adjusted gross revenue to the state\'92s tracks and horsemen. The bill... Calls for... The four highest earning casinos in the state\'97to pay the surcharge. Terms call for 60% of that amount to go to purses and the remaining 40% to be used by Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks...
www.thoroughbredtimes.com / December 17, 2008

Holder omitted Blagojevich link from questionnaire
IL - Kelly, the Sun-Times later learned, was a business partner of Tony Rezko, another Blagojevich fund-raiser who had held an option to lease a hotel site next to the proposed casino site in Rosemont. Rezko, also a former Obama fund-raiser, and Kelly both have denied any wrongdoing related to the casino, though both have been charged in separate, unrelated criminal cases since 2004.
www.suntimes.com / BY CHRIS FUSCO / December 17, 2008

Informant Claims Blagojevich Once Worked as a Bookie
IL - A man who was once a mafia attorney and then became a federal informant claims that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich paid the mob to run a bookmaking operation in Chicago's North Side. He said Blagojevich paid convicted illegal gambling operator Robert "Bobby the Boxer" Abbinanti directly. Cooley said he predicted when Blagojevich was made governor that he would be selling official positions.
www.foxnews.com / December 17, 2008

Illinois Gaming Board postpones awarding of casino license
prosecutors...alleged that Blagojevich used a bill [he signed] that continues the practice of taking casino revenue to subsidize horse racing as leverage to solicit campaign contributions.
www.chicagotribune.com / December 17, 2008

Casino questions
IL - The FBI complaint filed against the governor of Illinois last week discusses his alleged fundraising efforts in connection with a bill affecting the casino and horse-racing industries. Hmm. And some people still wonder why public officials and law-enforcement agencies need to apply extraordinary scrutiny to industries that involve gambling. The bill would extend the life of existing law that subsidizes the state's racetracks with revenue from its largest casinos. The FBI complaint suggests that the alleged Blagojevich fundraising effort was tied to his expected decision to sign the bill.
www.chicagotribune.com / December 16, 2008

Rod Blagojevich scandal affects politics and purse strings in Springfield
IL - He also is accused of trying to squeeze campaign contributions from a children's hospital by threatening its state funding; trying to get money from a horseracing industry source by threatening not to sign a horseracing subsidy bill; and trying to get critical Chicago Tribune editorial writers fired by offering a state business deal to the newspaper's owners. Blagojevich's alleged plot to trade gambling legislation for campaign funds, for example, prompted an anti-gambling activist to argue that the state should postpone any action on a proposed new casino in the Chicago area. "At this time, it is imperative that trust in government be restored before making such an important decision about gambling,'' activist Anita Bedell said in a statement.
www.stltoday.com/ By Kevin McDermott / 12/14/2008

Casino foes: Gov's arrest should delay Gaming Board's decision
IL - The Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction is asking the Illinois Gaming Board to delay its decision on the 10th casino license because of allegations involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich and casino revenue going to the horse racing industry. Blagojevich was arrested and charged Dec. 10 by FBI agents on federal corruption charges. "The bill in question, which is awaiting Blagojevich's signature, is believed to be legislation that directs a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry."
www.pioneerlocal.com / By PAT KROCHMAL / December 12, 2008

GTECH lobbyist cooperated in Chicago probe
IL - A key informant in the federal corruption case against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is a paid lobbyist for the Rhode Island-based corporation GTECH [international lottery giant]. And last year, the company secured a separate $35-million one-year contract extension to provide "online lottery products" with Illinois.
www.projo.com / Journal State House Bureau / By Steve Peoples / December 10, 2008

Horse racing bill may be part of pay-to-play plan
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest Tuesday on federal corruption charges may involve an alleged pay-to-play scheme to get contributions in exchange for supporting a bill that would provide more revenue to the Illinois horse racing industry. According to the affidavit, Calls... Revealed that a lobbyist told Blagojevich that a contributor needed to make a contribution before questions were raised over the timing of the contribution and the governor signing a bill that would benefit the contributor. The measure would provide about $80 million to the tracks.
www.theolympian.com/ BY WILL BUSS / December 10, 2008

Blagojevich Tried To Cash In On Fairmount Park
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was allegedly trying to "cash in" from Illinois horse tracks according to the federal criminal complaint charging both the governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, with corruption. Blagojevich told a lobbyist "good job" for securing the payment; \'a0the lobbyist saying the governor could count on the money because the lobbyist "got in the contributor's face".
www.myfoxstl.com/ By Andy Banker / 10 Dec 2008

Blagojevich Tried To Cash In On Fairmount Park
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was allegedly trying to "cash in" from Illinois horse tracks according to the federal criminal complaint charging both the governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, with corruption. Blagojevich told a lobbyist "good job" for securing the payment; the lobbyist saying the governor could count on the money because the lobbyist "got in the contributor's face".
www.myfoxstl.com/ By Andy Banker / 10 Dec 2008

Horse racing bill may be part of pay-to-play plan
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest Tuesday on federal corruption charges may involve an alleged pay-to-play scheme to get contributions in exchange for supporting a bill that would provide more revenue to the Illinois horse racing industry. That bill is believed to be the one that would pump millions into the state horse racing industry. The legislation passed the Illinois House and Senate two weeks ago and has been sitting on Blagojevich's desk, awaiting his signature.
www.theolympian.com / News-Democrat / BY WILL BUSS / December 10, 2008

Legislature OKs $90 million for horse-racing industry
IL - Illinois' horse-racing industry will get to keep a multimillion dollar subsidy from the state's most profitable casinos for three more years under legislation now headed to Gov. Blagojevich.
www.suntimes.com / Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief / BY DAVE MCKINNEY / November 21, 2008

Casinos must wait for $800,000
NV - Strip casinos alleging convicted political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko owes them money will have to wait in line. Rezko owes approximately $800,000 to Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's for unpaid gambling debts... Rezko is facing a federal prison sentence after a conviction in June on 16 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, attempted extortion and money laundering in a political corruption case in Chicago. Rezko raised more than $1 million for current Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose administration is under investigation for corruption.
www.lvrj.com / Las Vegas Review-Journal / By ARNOLD M. KNIGHTLY / Oct. 02, 2008

Illinois moves closer to leasing state lottery
IL - Illinois was the first state to openly talk about selling or leasing its state-run lottery as a way to generate cash without raising taxes. And now, more than two years after the concept was floated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, there are signs the Land of Lincoln is inching closer to approving the idea. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has called the House back to Springfield next week, possibly to act on a plan to lease the state lottery to a private vendor. The plan was not embraced by the Legislature, as critics worried that the loss of a steady stream of revenue actually would hurt funding for state programs, such as education. Democrats in the House say a key part of any deal centers on spelling out the projects on which the money will be spent. Behind the scenes of the lottery push are major investment banks, which have dedicated staff to guide states toward a sale.
www.stltoday.com / LEE CAPITOL BUREAU / By Kurt Erickson / 09/04/2008

Bitter race shaping up for 2010 governor
IL - After running in 2002 as a self-proclaimed reformer who'd restore ethical standards in the wake of GOP Gov. George Ryan's scandals, Blagojevich's administration has produced numerous investigations and controversy. He's acknowledged being questioned by federal investigators, probes continue on his hiring and contracting practices, his chief political fundraiser has been convicted of using his Blagojevich clout to mastermind a state pension kickback scheme and the governor's close friend and adviser on issues such as gambling expansion has been charged with cheating on his taxes to hide illegal gambling debts.
www.beepcentral.com / Daily Herald / John Patterson / August 29, 2008

Mayor Richard Daley swats at several of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposals
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich revealed the new $25 billion plan Thursday in hopes of wooing lawmakers who would not support a larger plan bankrolled by a massive gambling expansion. Daley has long sought a Chicago casino, but opposed the previous plan because of disagreements over issues including control of the casino and the city's share of the revenue.
www.chicagotribune.com / Chicago Tribune / By Monique Garcia / August 2, 2008

Blagojevich notes bridge collapse to pressure legislators
IL - Blagojevich's office indicated there would be room for compromise at a meeting the Democratic governor has called with top legislative leaders at his Chicago office later this week. That includes reducing the price tag of the proposed $34 billion statewide construction program and possibly nixing some of the gambling components that would have paid for it, said Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero.
www.stltoday.com / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS / 07/30/2008

Gov may dump Chicago casino
IL - Gov. Blagojevich is prepared to revise or outright eliminate plans for a Chicago casino in a bid to jump-start his stalled statewide construction program, a top aide said Tuesday. The mayor and speaker have opposed the governor's plan for a city casino, effectively stymieing a capital deal in Springfield.
www.suntimes.com / BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND RUMMANA HUSSAIN / July 30, 2008

Problem gamblers need more help, lawmakers say
IL - A spokesman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich insisted the state is "always looking for ways to determine the effects gaming has on communities in Illinois." Rudduck said the governor supports treatment funding for gambling addicts and that is why he didn't cut any of the $960,000 set aside for such programs despite budget problems this year. Blagojevich and Jones have pushed for a dramatic expansion of legalized gambling in Illinois as a way to fund a major public works program. At the same time, the state is preparing to auction off a 10th casino license in the coming months.
www.dailyherald.com / Daily Herald / By Joseph Ryan / 7/24/2008

Illinois casinos beat the odds with tighter slot machines
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich and key lawmakers want to add hundreds of slot machines to racetracks, including Arlington Park, and add one casino in Chicago and potentially another in the suburbs. Plus, in the coming months the state will authorize a tenth casino likely to land in the suburbs.
www.dailyherald.com / Daily Herald / By Joseph Ryan / 7/20/2008

Daley 'not mad' at Blagojevich but gov will have to 'live with those words'
IL - The two powerful Democrats are at odds over Daley's opposition to Blagojevich's plan for a Chicago casino, a crucial element in paying for the governor's stalled $33.7 billion public works and jobs package.
newsblogs.chicagotribune.com / by Mary Owen / July 19, 2008

Expanded gambling is rejected
IL - The Illinois House on Thursday sank Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed expansion of casino gambling... House members loyal to Madigan voted Thursday to kill that plan, which would have opened three new casinos in the state, allowed existing casinos to expand and allowed slot machines at horse racing tracks. It was the second time this year the plan was voted down.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott / 07/11/2008

House defeats gambling expansion plan
IL - The legislation [to fund Blagojevich's construction plan] would have approved a casino in downtown Chicago and two other new casinos.
www.chicagotribune.com / Associated Press / July 10, 2008

Budget rerun means more bickering in Springfield
IL - Just like last year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and legislators are blaming each other for the bitter impasse. Once again, they're refusing to work together and insulting one another, this time with words like "madman" and "impeachment" and "tax increase." This year, the Democratic governor and his main ally, Senate President Emil Jones, pushed for a long list of new revenues measures. They included a massive gambling expansion, privatizing the state lottery, And one of Blagojevich's most vocal critics, Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Woodstock, has called on Madigan to convene hearings on whether to impeach the governor.
www.chicagotribune.com / Associated Press / By CHRISTOPHER WILLS / July 4, 2008

Governors in Several Key States Continue to Push Lottery Privatization
- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) said in his State of the State address early this year he wants lawmakers to approve "partial lease of the state lottery, which would help fund up to $10 billion of a $25 to 30 billion state construction program." Though Blagojevich is a liberal Democrat, one of the state's most powerful Republicans, former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, has jumped on the governor's bandwagon. Blagojevich has named Hastert to head a state coalition...
www.heartland.org / Budget & Tax News / By: John W. Skorburg / July 1, 2008

Odds are against using gambling revenue
IL - Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and others who want casinos in their towns continue to push for a Chicago casino and several more along with a plan to lease proceeds from the state lottery to help balance the state budget and fund a $34 billion capital construction plan for rebuilding our roads, bridges, schools. If they do that this year and gambling revenues continue to decline, how will that funding be replaced next year? The Rockefeller Institute says states should quit relying so much on gambling as a revenue growth stream.
www.dailyherald.com / Daily Herald / 6/26/2008

Blagojevich vows $2B in cuts unless Madigan caves
IL - In a Chicago news conference, Mr. Blagojevich, as he has for several weeks, charged that the Legislature passed him a fiscal 2009 state budget with a $2-billion hole. He again blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has refused to sign off on plans backed by the Senate to privatize the state lottery, authorize three more casinos and tap unreserved state funds.
www.chicagobusiness.com / By: Greg Hinz / June 24, 2008

Public won't get to vote on state gambling expansion
IL - The House Gaming Committee shot down an attempt fueled by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn to put the question [of expanded gambling] on the ballot for residents to consider on Nov. 4. "It's disappointing that they had such a lopsided vote against an issue that is very front-and-center in Illinois," Quinn said. Last year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich agreed to back a gambling expansion...
daily-journal.com / Springfield Bureau / By Andrea Zelinski / June 24, 2008

Illinois: Paving with I-O-Us
IL - Illinois Works passed the Senate, but it's now caught up in the perpetual feud between the state's two top Democrats, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan. Mr. Blagojevich wants to pay for $7 billion of Illinois Works by leasing most of the state lottery to a private company for the next half century. It would add casinos in Chicago and more slot machines on the existing boats and at horse-racing tracks. "Slots for tots," the critics call it.
www.stltoday.com / 06/23/2008

Study urges wariness of state gambling revenue
IL - A report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows revenue growth from gambling across the country has slowed during the last three years. In Illinois, proponents of a statewide construction plan, including Gov. Rod Blagojevich, want to pay for it with the help of a land-based casino in Chicago. The study says states shouldn't rely on gambling as a growth stream.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / By Ashley Wiehle / June 22, 2008

Governor's bill would double-down on gambling
IL - Illinois could become the first state to own a casino as part of a massive gambling expansion that Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to use to pay for new public works programs. The gambling bill, which was approved by the state Senate, would double casino gambling by authorizing slot machines at horse-racing tracks, a giant city-owned casino in Chicago, and two new casinos elsewhere in the state, one of which could be owned by the state.
www.ChicagoBusiness.com / By Bob Tita / June 16, 2008

Ill will may doom Illinois' massive construction plan
IL - A major sticking point has been the controversial funding mechanism, which would include leasing the state lottery to private investors, something no other state in the U.S. has done. But it's clear that another major holdup is the personal war of wills in Springfield, primarily between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott / 06/16/2008

column
IL - In the memo, aides to House Speaker Michael Madigan offer guidance to candidates running in the November election on the subject of impeaching Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In his unsuccessful 1998 run for governor, Poshard said he was opposed to an expansion of gambling in Illinois. In our discussion Tuesday, Poshard said he switched his position and backed the massive expansion of gambling for the statewide construction plan because Blagojevich and legislative leaders had eliminated every other potential source of income to pay for it.
www.stltoday.com / Kurt Erickson / 06/13/2008

Court ruling gives racetrack temporary boost
IL - Fairmount Park, along with other Illinois racetracks, received millions of dollars in good news on Thursday morning. After two years of debate, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding 2006 legislation that requires the state's highest-grossing casinos to share some of their proceeds with horse racing tracks. The court case traces back to May 2006, when legislation was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, hitting the highest grossing riverboat casinos (those with adjusted gross receipts over $200 million) with a 3 percent surcharge.
collinsvilleherald.stltoday.com / By Mike Terry / June 7, 2008

Ex-Obama Fund-Raiser Is Convicted of Fraud
IL - Antoin Rezko, a once-powerful fund-raiser who helped propel the career of Senator Barack Obama, was found guilty on Wednesday by a federal jury of 16 counts, including fraud, money laundering and bribery in an influence-peddling scheme that touched the highest levels of the administration of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois. Hillary Rodham Clinton... Republican National Committee... Republican Party... George Ryan... Mr. Rezko was one of Mr. Blagojevich's top fund-raisers, bringing his campaign more than $1.4 million from 2001 to 2004, according to the federal authorities. Patrick J. Fitzgerald... Karl Rove...
www.nytimes.com / By CATRIN EINHORN and SUSAN SAULNY / June 5, 2008

Ill gov., lawmakers blame each other
IL - Blagojevich began this year with an ambitious wish list: He had called for a massive infrastructure program, universal health care and a $300-per-child state income tax rebate. He suggested paying for it with a major expansion of gambling. - Gaming expansion. The Senate passed a massive expansion of gaming that would have enlarged the state's casino industry and allowed slot machines at horse racing venues, as a means of paying for new infrastructure and other priorities. But the House never voted on the measure, in large part because lawmakers say they don't trust Blagojevich to spend the money fairly. - Smoking ban exemptions. Several lawmakers tried to carve out exemptions in the state's new smoking ban. Among the proposals were exemptions for riverboat casinos, private clubs and veterans' halls. None of these proposals ever made it to a vote.
www.stltoday.com / By Kevin McDermott and Kathleen Haughney / 06/05/2008

Blagojevich says legislature must trim $60 billion budget plan
IL - Blagojevich said he hoped that after meetings with leaders, the General Assembly could be called into session "for a day or so" to pass a balanced budget. The construction program would be paid for, in part, by a Blagojevich proposal that calls for leasing most of the Illinois lottery for decades. Another key provision is a broad expansion of gambling, including land-based casino gambling, more riverboat gambling and slot machines at racetracks.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / By David Mendell / June 3, 2008

Illinois lawmakers may put budget burden on governor
IL - The state Senate passed the package Saturday, including provisions to fund it in part with controversial plans to partly privatize the state lottery, expand the state's casino industry and allow slot machines at horse-racing venues such as Fairmount Park at Collinsville. But the House later tabled the measure, But that agreement in principle has been hung up all year by distrust between Blagojevich and lawmakers. Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, Made a searing floor speech calling it "nuts'' to trust Blagojevich to fairly administer the program.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott and Kathleen Haughney / 06/01/2008

Rezko's gambling troubles
IL - The insider in the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been charged with passing bad checks written to cover debts at two casinos, authorities said. Officials in Nevada said Rezko bounced $450,000 in checks at Caesars Palace and Bally's Casino in a four-month stretch in 2006, Rezko told the judge he had liabilities in excess of $50 million. Several witnesses testified about conversations with Rezko or his associates as early as November 2004 in which a scheme was discussed to stop the federal probe by pulling strings with Karl Rove, then the top political strategist in the Bush White House. With the new revelations, Rezko becomes the second member of Blagojevich's inner circle to face gambling difficulties.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / By Jeff Coen, Ray Gibson and Bob Secter / May 30, 2008

Rezko hires attorney in attempt to stifle warrant
NV - Tony Rezko, an indicted Chicago political insider tied to Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, has hired a high-profile Las Vegas attorney to try to quickly quash a warrant for his arrest in Clark County. On $472,275 in Strip gambling debts. Rezko was charged in a criminal complaint signed in Las Vegas on May 13 with two counts of fraud stemming from $250,000 in gambling debts at Caesars Palace and $200,000 in markers at Bally's. Rezko has had other unpaid gambling debts on the Strip. Failed to repay $331,000 for gambling markers.
www.lasvegassun.com / By Jeff German / May 30, 2008

Fundraiser faces arrest in multiple gaming debts
- A Las Vegas judge has issued a felony arrest warrant for a politically connected Chicago businessman whose ties to Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama have become an issue in the campaign. Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who is standing trial on federal corruption charges in Chicago, is wanted in Las Vegas for failing to pay $472,275 in gambling debts to Caesars Palace and Bally's and related processing fees to the Clark County district attorney's office. Obama acknowledged early in the campaign that it had been a mistake to enter into a 2005 land deal with Rezko at a time when the businessman was under federal scrutiny. While at a Chicago law firm, Obama also had done legal work involving housing developments owned by Rezko. Rezko was indicted in October 2006 in connection with what authorities say was an influence-peddling and extortion scheme aimed at adding to Blagojevich's campaign coffers.
www.lasvegassun.com / By Jeff German / May 29, 2008

Las Vegas goes after Rezko for gambling debts
NV - A Las Vegas judge has issued a felony arrest warrant for Antoin "Tony" Rezko on charges that he failed to pay more than $470,000 in casino gambling debts and related fees, even as a federal jury in Chicago considers his fate on corruption charges, according to a published report. Rezko awaits a jury's verdict on charges he used his influence with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration in an illegal scheme to enrich himself and his friends.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / May 29, 2008

Las Vegas judge issues arrest warrant for Tony Rezko over alleged gambling debts
IL - Tony Rezko now faces fresh criminal charges in Las Vegas that accuse him of failing to pay $450,000 in gambling debts. Rezko, Who was a fund-raiser to both Gov. Blagojevich and presidential hopeful Barack Obama, is accused of scheming with codefendant Stuart Levine to take kickbacks from companies seeking state business.
www.suntimes.com / BY NATASHA KORECKI / May 29, 2008

Business group backs more gambling to fund road construction
IL - The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tuesday lent its support for the gambling concept because it would pay for billions in improvements to the state's aging roads and bridges. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has proposed spending $31 billion raised by gambling expansion and a lottery lease on a statewide construction plan.
www.pantagraph.com / By Mike Riopell / 05/27/08

Court rules fired gaming official can sue for retaliation
IL - The lawsuit charged Tamayo resisted Blagojevich... When they tried to take control of Gaming Board operations, interfere with casino bidding processes and demanded an end to investigations of certain casinos.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune staff / May 27, 2008

Poshard, Hastert push $31 billion plan
IL - Former Congressmen Glenn Poshard and Dennis Hastert on Tuesday called for a sweeping $31 billion Illinois infrastructure program, to be funded partly by allowing slot machines in horse racing venues and by privatizing the state lottery. But the two veteran political leaders - who have been Gov. Rod Blagojevich's roving emissaries on the issue lately - acknowledged that legislative distrust of Blagojevich has hampered their effort.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott / 05/21/2008

Governor took gift from indicted aide
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich received more than $500 in gifts last year from one of his closest confidants and top fundraisers who is now under federal indictment on tax-fraud charges, according to an ethics statement the governor filed Thursday. Federal prosecutors in December charged Kelly, a former adviser on gambling issues, with cheating on his taxes to pay gambling debts and under-reporting his income between 2000 and 2005 by more than $1 million. Kelly wagered millions of dollars with one undisclosed bookie and additional millions at Las Vegas casinos, according to prosecutors.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / By John Chase / May 2, 2008

No great alternatives
IL - Mr. Blagojevich, meanwhile, is taking a political beating as his name pops up repeatedly in the corruption trial of his friend and campaign contributor, Tony Rezko - even though the governor himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Mr. Rezko, however, is accused of using his clout with the governor's office to pack state boards and then using those boards to extract bribes.
www.stltoday.com / 04/02/2008

Illinois Republican suggests Democrats are still feuding
IL - Cross said it was hard for the governor to advance his agenda because of the allegations coming of out of the federal trial of political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko. The star witness in Rezko's trial has testified that Blagojevich once told him: "Stick with us and you will do very well for yourself."
www.stltoday.com / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS / By Deanna Bellandi / 03/30/2008

Legislator pushes bill to help Fairmount
IL - The Legislature [is being asked] to put aside their differences and approve a massive capital works bill that includes, among other things, subsidies from the gambling boats for the tracks. The capital measure, supported by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, needs the Legislature's approval to keep thoroughbred racing alive at Fairmount. Because of a lack of funding at the track, purses used to pay owners and trainers have been drastically cut... Live racing also has been trimmed.
www.stltoday.com / By Ken Roberts / 3/27/2008

Blagojevich plan targets out-of-state gamblers
IL - The one-armed bandit soon may be getting greedier in Illinois casinos. Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration today is expected to propose that the casinos be required to withhold the state's 3 percent income tax from all gambling winnings of $1,000 or more before paying out those winnings. The idea is to collect that owed tax while the gambler is still standing there in the casino, instead of trying to collect it at tax time - which is virtually impossible if the person doesn't file an Illinois state income tax return. The administration estimates the policy change would net some $4 million annually in state tax revenue that is supposed to be paid by lucky gamblers but hasn't been.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott / 02/20/2008

Indicted Blagojevich fundraiser got loan from Iraqi billionaire
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's chief fundraiser has arranged to get a loan from the same Iraqi billionaire whose $3.5 million payment got another member of the governor's inner circle thrown in jail. Christopher Kelly, head of Blagojevich's campaign fund in both of his races for governor and now under federal indictment, pledged all of his shares in a Nevada land partnership as collateral in exchange for the loan, according to state records reviewed by The Associated Press. The loan came from... A company based in Luxembourg and headed by Nadhmi Auchi, a London-based Iraqi who is currently appealing a fraud conviction in France. Kelly was at one time the governor's point man on gambling issues.
www.stltoday.com / ASSOCIATED PRESS / By Mike Robinson / 02/07/2008

Critics Slam Illinois Gambling Plan
IL - Huge expansion of legal gambling... In the Chicago region, Supporters include Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) and Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago). Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who campaigned on promises to block gambling expansion, has been holding closed-door talks with lawmakers to hammer out a gambling expansion deal.
www.heartland.org / Budget & Tax News / By: Steve Stanek / February 1, 2008

Another public opinion bomb
IL - The fall from grace isn't over yet. Blagojevich, Jones and the House and Senate Republicans risk irking voters again with their push to expand gaming in Illinois and Chicago in order to pay for a capital construction plan. The public is not happy with this expansion plan. According to that Fako & Associates poll, just 38 percent say they back a plan for a Chicago-owned casino along with two more boats, slots at tracks and expansion at current riverboats, while 57 percent oppose the idea. The poll of 801 registered voters was taken Jan. 3-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent. Sixty-seven percent said they thought organized crime and gambling addiction would increase with expanded gaming, 72 percent said Chicago can't be trusted to run a casino without scandals and corruption, and 71 percent acknowledged that casino revenues aren't a stable funding source.
www.saukvalley.com / By Rich Miller / January 22, 2008

Rethink wisdom of expanded gambling
IL - The indictment included allegations that Kelly used company money to pay gambling debts to Las Vegas casinos and Chicago-area bookies. Recently, several stories about gambling or organized crime were in Chicago's newspapers. Should we put the "Land of Lincoln" in a position to be the most gambling-addicted state... State Sen. Kirk W. Dillard... Hinsdale...
www.dailyherald.com / 12/28/2007

This time next yea, we'll know more but will we be any wiser?
IL - Also, the trial of Antonin "Tony" Rezko, a Blagojevich buddy and major fundraiser accused of political corruption, will evoke memories of the trials of Gov. George Ryan's cronies, and may give us a clearer picture whether the federal government wants Rod to be George's cellmate.
www.stltoday.com / ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH / By Pat Gauen / 12/27/2007

Could have been worse for governor
IL - Blagojevich now is in the awkward position of pushing for a massive gambling expansion while the political world discovers the last time the governor did so, in 2003, he put his buddy Kelly in charge of the project. According to the feds, Kelly placed millions of dollars in bets with Illinois bookies on sports contests during that period. He allegedly hid some of those winnings and losses from the Internal Revenue Service. Madigan [Speaker] saw how Kelly operated in 2003, when the governor flip-flopped on his promise not to expand gaming but then dispatched Kelly to cut a deal. Kelly rode herd over the Illinois Gaming Board to get them to do the governor's bidding, including where new casinos would be sited.
www.southtownstar.com / By Rich Miller / December 17, 2007

Mobster's pal gives to pols
IL - An Oak Brook businessman who has extensive financial and personal ties to the former head of the Chicago mob has given more than $200,000 in contributions to Illinois politicians through personal and corporate donations -- with Gov. Blagojevich receiving the most money, $35,000, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. Nicholas Vangel gave Gov. Blagojevich $35,000 in campaign donations. Vangel is the former owner of the Carlisle banquet hall in west suburban Lombard and was among nine people arrested there during a gambling raid of a Super Bowl party in 1991.
www.suntimes.com / Sun Times / BY STEVE WARMBIR / December 16, 2007

Could indictment sink gambling plan?
IL - With Gov. Rod Blagojevich's gambling point man now accused of placing millions of dollars in illegal bets and breaking the law to cover it up, state lawmakers face the question of whether they're willing to entrust Blagojevich with a massive gambling expansion plan. Blagojevich turned to him early in his administration for help with gambling negotiations, in part because, as the governor once put it, Kelly knew about gambling. Federal prosecutors alleged Kelly "placed millions of dollars of wagers with" an illegal Illinois bookmaking operation between 2000 and 2006.
www.dailyherald.com / Daily Herald / By John Patterson / 12/15/2007

Blagojevich friend is indicted
IL - Rezko is scheduled to go to trial in February on charges that he demanded kickbacks and political donations to Blagojevich from companies seeking to do business with the state. Blagojevich critics say the allegations against Rezko are part of a pattern of administration insiders using that connection to enrich themselves.
www.stltoday.com / POST-DISPATCH SPRINGFIELD BUREAU / By Kevin McDermott / 12/14/2007

Illinois governor's former adviser on gambling accused of tax fraud
IL - Former adviser on gambling issues... Allegedly tapping his company's funds to pay off gambling debts. Kelly used... Funds to pay off millions in debts to a bookie in Chicago and casinos in Las Vegas,
blogs.usatoday.com / AP / by Doug Stanglin / December 13, 2007

Ill. gov's ex-adviser charged with fraud
IL - The federal indictment says Christopher G. Kelly, [former Gov. adviser on gambling] Placed millions of dollars in wagers with a bookie in Chicago and casinos in Las Vegas, then paid the debts out of corporate funds from his business, portraying the payments as legitimate business expenses. He also is accused of hiding $1.3 million in taxable income.
www.kansascity.com / Associated Press / By MIKE ROBINSON / Dec. 13, 2007

Feds indict friend of governor
IL - Christopher Kelly, one of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's closest advisers and the chief fundraiser on his two campaigns, was indicted Thursday on tax fraud charges alleging he improperly used corporate funds to cover gambling debts he had run up in Las Vegas and with a local bookie. The indictment was another federal shot at the inner circle of the governor, coming on a day when more fraud counts were added to an indictment against former Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko. A Rezko associate, Abdelhamid Chaib, was also named in the indictment for the first time. Meanwhile, Rezko on Thursday was hit with more fraud counts in connection with the alleged bogus sale of pizza restaurants to Chaib, who was indicted as a straw purchaser. Along with Rezko, Kelly served inside a cadre of "kitchen cabinet" advisers to Blagojevich. And the governor himself made it clear that Kelly enjoyed a special role within that small group.
www.chicagotribune.com / Tribune / By Jeff Coen and John Chase / December 13, 2007

Blagojevich's ex adviser indicted
IL - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's former campaign finance chairman was charged Thursday with hiding $1.3 million in taxable income and illegally dipping into company funds to pay debts arising from millions of dollars in bets he placed with Chicago bookies and Las Vegas casinos. Kelly, Believed to have raised millions of dollars for the governor's 2002 campaign, was one of three men linked to a federal investigation of corruption in Illinois government to be indicted by a grand jury Thursday. Kelly was charged with five counts each of filing false federal income tax returns and filing false corporate tax returns, one count of obstructing or impeding the Internal Revenue Service and one count of illegally structuring monetary transactions. According to the indictment, Kelly placed millions of dollars in wagers with bookies involved in betting on football, baseball, basketball and horse racing. It said at least once he used money from his roofing business to pay a bookie and recorded it on the books as a business loan. Kelly arranged for a Chicago pizza company to transfer $45,000 to the bookie's bank account,
www.stltoday.com / ASSOCIATED PRESS / By Mike Robinson / 12/13/2007

Only a casino can stop Mayor Chucky
IL - Also, the legislation that the mayor [Daley] doesn't know anything about would create a five-member Chicago Casino Developmental Authority to oversee everything, with three members picked by Daley and two picked by Tony Rezko's governor.
www.chicagotribune.com / John Kass / October 12, 2007

Governor's political capital evaporating
IL - Even the big-time gambling expansion Blagojevich backed at the last minute didn't make it out of the General Assembly. Some of what capital Blagojevich earned evaporated right before the election. Blagojevich had to fend off a federal corruption investigation that snared his top fund-raiser and friend Antoin Rezko on influence-peddling and shakedown charges.
www.dailyherald.com / DAILY HERALD / BY ERIC KROL / June 03, 2007

Keno proposal raises questions from legislators
IL - A proposal to allow keno in Illinois bars and restaurants has raised questions among legislators. Tuesday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced a plan to pay for school construction through bonds bought with money raised from keno. Legislators are asking whether allowing keno, a bingo-like game, is an expansion of the lottery or of gambling -- something the governor said he would not support when he ran for office.
qconline.com / By Heather Gach / January 12, 2006

Will gambling survive in Illinois?
IL - The vote to eliminate casinos is the second time this year actions in Illinois have affected Nevada casino operators. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was slow to appoint new members to the Illinois Gaming Control Board, leaving the panel short of a quorum, which delayed the MGM Mirage completing it's $7.9 billion buyout of the Mandalay Resort Group by almost a month.
www.reviewjournal.com / Las Vegas Review-Journal / By HOWARD STUTZ / Oct. 29, 2005

Gaming Board members blast Blagojevich for meddling
IL - Illinois Gaming Board took their complaints about Gov. Rod Blagojevich to state lawmakers... The administration has handed out contracts and hired board employees without permission, Blagojevich... And... Kelly... Control negotiations... 10th riverboat license.
www.lasvegassun.com / February 25, 2005

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