What? Doesn't Stroger know he has enough problems already? Like maybe there is a special CC meeting taking place to address some of them. Now he hires someone who is already collecting CC pension, to a forest preserve post.
Couldn't he find someone who really needed to work? Dennis Magee, Stroger's new hire is already a Mayor, and collection CC pension. I can't believe there were no applicants that, were out of work, needed a job, that could have filled this. We had thousands of people line up in the rain for a few hotel, tip only positions, and who does Todd pick?

It should be interesting what will come out of today's meeting.

By KIM JANSSEN, Staff Writer
Cook County may be struggling with an ongoing financial crisis, but board President Todd Stroger has found taxpayer cash to hire another connected south suburban supporter to a $61,000-a-year job.

Merrionette Park Mayor Dennis Magee - also a Democratic Committeeman for Worth Township - is due to start work Friday working as an administrative assistant for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, according to district spokesman Steve Mayberry.

Magee, 61, has been collecting a pension from the county since retiring in August from County Clerk David Orr's staff.

He worked for the clerk's office for 24 years and retired on a salary of $82,000, Orr spokeswoman Courtney Greve said.

The forest preserve district position has been empty for six months and is exempt from the Shakman decree that outlaws patronage hiring, Mayberry said.

Stroger "isn't legally obliged," to open up the position to outside applicants, Mayberry added, pointing out that the district is not facing the same financial difficulties as other branches of county government.

Though Stroger has patronage privileges over both the forest preserve district and Cook County, the two authorities have separate taxing powers, meaning Magee can legally collect his pension from the county while being paid by the Forest Preserve.

Magee will be in charge of bicycle and Kayak concessions and dog, horse and snowmobile licensing, Mayberry said.

The hiring adds Magee to a county payroll that already includes several Democratic Committeemen Stroger will rely on in his 2010 re-election bid, including the committeemen for Palos, Calumet, Bloom and Thornton Townships.

Stroger last week announced plans to cut the county sales tax by 0.25 percent, saving customers 25 cents on every $100 they spend.

Magee did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Kim Janssen can be reached at kjanssen@southtownstar.com or (708) 633-5998.

Opening up a can of worms for Stroger

From bad to worse each day

Todd Stroger either should be running around like a scared chicken now, or one with it's head cut off.
Donna Dunnings is concerned now about her health insurance. Well, why should she be? Her cousin is in charge of the John Stroger Hospital? Didn't Donna do what she could for the county while she was CFO to insure that the health care was properly budgeted for? Didn't she make sure that they received all the insurance payments they were to receive? As CFO she surely looked to be sure that all the contracts they were paying on were legitimate and they were making all payments on time to get the discounts? Ya, right. Donna welcome to Cook County Health Care.
The meeting Todd had with his cousin was only 20 minutes? Maybe he left because of the whining, crying and foul language?
Each and every day this Dunnings/Cole/Stroger fiasco gets uglier. The Cook County Commissioners should look at impeachment if that is possible. Why not, two impeachments in one year for this state? Would we be breaking records?

April 22, 2009 1:56 PM | 1 Comment
A judge today raised bond for fired Cook County employee Tony Cole to $200,000 after probation officers testified about three violations of a protective order, including a profanity-filled tirade against the officers when they visited his apartment.

Cole's new lawyer raised questions about the high number of times that probation officers checked up on Cole, who was on home confinement on charges related to a domestic violence case. Officers visited his home at least 66 times in 64 days, court officials said.

Of those 66 visits, Cole was judged non-compliant eight times, Circuit Judge James Patrick Murphy said.

Murphy said the noncompliance incidents were happening with greater frequency recently, causing him alarm.

Cole's bond had been set at $50,000 in January, according to prosecutors.

Cole, a onetime steakhouse busboy with a criminal record, was hired by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger but then fired earlier this month from his position as a $61,189-a-year human resources assistant in the county Highway Department.

In a mushrooming political scandal, Stroger's cousin Donna Dunnings, the county's chief financial officer, resigned at his request last week. Stroger said Dunnings was the target of "explosive" allegations by Cole.

Stroger repeatedly has refused to say what those allegations were. Earlier today, Stroger visited Dunnings at her home but refused to talk to a reporter.

Cole was charged last year with domestic battery for allegedly striking his girlfriend. He also allegedly violated an order of protection twice by harassing her at home. He was released after a November arrest after Donna Dunnings, then the county's chief financial officer, posted his $1,000 bail.

In January, his bail was increased to $40,000 after he allegedly made threatening phone calls to his ex-girlfriend. Once again Dunnings posted his additional bail of $3,000.

This month, Coles was not at home as required when authorities made an unannounced visit. He was arrested April 14 and has been in jail since then.

That was the latest episode in a yearslong pattern of allegations involving violence against women.

But it was a felony conviction in Georgia for bouncing a rent check that Coles failed to disclose on his job application that led Stroger to fire him and later Dunnings.

Both Dunnings and Cole have denied any physical relationship.

Cole, a former college basketball player, was working as a busboy at Ruth's Chris Steak House where he met Stroger, who later put him on the county payroll last October as an administrative assistant earning $48,289 a year.

He later was promoted to human resources assistant in the County Highway Department at $61,189 a year.

Donna Dunnings surprised she lost her post?Cook County Board President Todd Stroger today visited the cousin he dumped last week from her top financial post in his administration.

Stroger spent about 20 minutes at Donna Dunnings' home and declined to comment to a reporter as he left.

"I don't speak to reporters camped out outside people's houses," he said. Then he got into a county SUV with a bodyguard and driver and they pulled away.

Dunnings, until last Thursday the county's chief financial officer, came out shortly after Stroger left. She waved at a Tribune reporter who asked her to talk, got into a car and left.

In an interview published today in the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunnings said that while her firing shocked her, she still loved her cousin and harbored him no ill will. But she expressed concern about her financial future and lack of health insurance.

Yes, John Daley has a lot to worry about

Commissioners: Joan Murphy, Deborah Sims, Jerry Butler, Bill Beavers and Tony Peraica did not sign the letter to David Orr, Cook County Clerk asking for a Special Meeting to have the Stroger Administration present to the Board all procedures and precautions taken to ensure the integrity of any financial system, accounts bonds or any other activity directly under the control of the Chief Financial Officer, (Donna Dunnings). Of course Bill Beavers did not sign the letter, he is one of Todd's biggest supporters, he followed him to the County when Todd became President to help him out. Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims have teamed up together on some questionable matters due to getting their staff exempt from the Shakman decree, so I am not surprised here.

This all came on the letterhead of John Daley, Chairman Committee on Finance. This was a surprise. John Daley has been one of Todd's biggest defenders. I wonder if it is because this affects the Finance Department, of which John Daley is Chair, so he is going to get out in front of it to cover himself. Tony Cole had a job in the finance department. How does anyone get a job in a finance department without a criminal background check? Yes, John Daley should be worried, this guy has a long rap sheet, and some of it including financial misconduct. Yes, they should be worried about what Tony Cole had access to, as far a sensitive information, bank accounts, credit cards, authorizations for approving spending.

Why would Todd Stroger go on Chicago Tonight and get interviewed by Carol Marin? She is one of the best interviewers in this town and Todd is no match for her. When Lance Tyson was Chief of Staff for Todd, Lance would appear on these types of interviews. Now Lance Tyson has left his post, and Joe Fratto took over for a short time, that is until he was promoted to Donna Dunnings post, on her resignation/firing? Some news sources are calling it a firing, even though she put in a resignation letter, be it a forced one, but none-the-less, a resignation letter.

Stroger acknowledged that another of his top lieutenants, Eugene Mullins, accompanied Dunnings to bail Cole out of jail -- confirming a fact first reported by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Konkol on the newspaper's Web site Monday nightStroger, though, liked what he saw when he met Cole, a restaurant busboy, and decided to hire him for a county job -- as an administrative assistant to Dunnings. Stroger said he knew something about Cole's troubled background in Georgia, but not the entire story.

After he started his county job, Cole got in trouble repeatedly, getting thrown in jail twice for allegedly violating an order of protection against an ex-girlfriend.

Each time, his boss, Dunnings, bailed him out.

After the last time he was bailed out, Cole didn't get fired -- he got a promotion at his county job.

Todd Stroger, again making front page Sunday News

Todd Stroger should have enjoyed the vacation from the front pages of the Newspapers. The newspapers have been so busy with the arrest of a Governor, to the impeachment of him, then to the arraignment of him. Our Former Governor Rod Blagojevich and all his cohorts have stolen the lime light from Todd Stroger, but no more, Todd will get his coverage. Out former Governor is working on ways to get himself in the media, from Reality TV, to whatever he can.

Cousin Donna Dunnings out, Joe Fratto in.

As if Joe Fratto wasn't looking stressed enough lately. I wonder if he knew about Toddler's Cousin Donna and her choice to hire Tony Cole? It appears as though Donna Dunnings has the same taste in bad boys as former Alderman Arenda Trout does.
I have posted a picture of Todd with Tom Glaser, who he moved out of the CFO position when becoming President. Todd soon moved Donna Dunnings into Tom Glaser's old post. Did Donna Dunnings resign from pressure from Todd? Or did the pressure from Todd's Chief of Staff, Joe Fratto, cause Donna to step down? Funny that Joe Fratto will now have Donna's job. The next question is going to be: Who will be the new Chief of Staff for Todd?

Tom Glaser to another postCook County, Ill.'s long-serving former chief financial officer, Thomas Glaser, will join the office of county treasurer Maria Pappas Monday following his resignation this week from his position in the county's procurement office. Glaser, served as county CFO for 11 years under President John Stroger, Todd's father.
Glaser's departure was among several resignations and demotions expected this week in a reported shakeup in board President Todd Stroger's administration, according to published reports

Cook County chief financial officer Donna Dunnings has resigned under pressure from her cousin, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

The resignation comes in the wake of Dunnings' disclosure of a personnel matter that could affect her ability to do her job as chief financial officer, according to a statement issued by Stroger's office.

Stroger asked for and accepted Dunnings' resignation, the statement said.

Stroger's initial selection of Dunnings as chief financial officer was questioned because of their family relationship.

Former Cook County comptroller and current administration chief of staff Joseph Fratto will assume Dunnings' responsibilities, the statement said.

Dunnings had served in a variety of budgetary and finance positions in Cook County government for more than 20 years, including the past three years as chief financial officer.
Donna Dunnings, a first cousin of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, resigned as the county's chief financial officer amid controversy over a recently fired patronage worker, Stroger announced today.

Stroger asked for Dunnings' resignation and she agreed because of allegations that would hurt her ability to do her job
Stroger declined to elaborate on the allegations, but said they were made by a man who was given a patronage job with Stroger's administration late last year. Stroger fired the man after learning he had a felony criminal conviction, said Sean Howard, a Stroger spokesman.

An oldie but a goodie
The Todd squad
By Steve Patterson
Chicago Sun-Times
February 7, 2007

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger didn't conduct a nationwide search to fill the county's top financial post.
Instead, he tapped into his family tree.

In a move decried by a critic as "nepotism at its worst," Stroger appointed his first cousin Donna Dunnings, 42, as chief financial officer, a six-figure position that oversees $3 billion in annual government spending.

And he created a new job for outgoing CFO Tom Glaser in the county hospital system, giving him a $70,000 raise and a major pension boost.

These moves come as Stroger is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts that would slash police, prosecutors, health programs and nursing jobs.
'This is just obscene'

"This is stunning," said Sheilah Garland-Olaniran of the National Nurses Organizing Committee. "In the face of what he is doing to nurses, prosecutors, public defenders, sheriff's officers -- to do this is just obscene."

Stroger defended his promotion of Glaser -- the CFO for the past 12 years, who will make $225,000 a year in his new job -- saying he'll help lead a hospital system long mismanaged and drowning in debt.
'She has great credentials'

Asked whether Dunnings was the best person for the job "in all of Cook County, in all of Illinois, in all of the country," Stroger said yes. He touted her 1986 college grade-point average and master's degree from Northwestern, saying "if she was anybody else . . . you wouldn't ask me about it."

Dunnings has been the county's budget director and previously worked for the assessor's office.

"I don't care what her name is or what her bloodline is, she has great credentials," Stroger said at a news conference on the appointments.

But Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who ran unsuccessfully for board president in last year's Democratic primary, later called it "nepotism at its worst" and said Stroger's insistence on hiring friends and relatives adds to the county's reputation as "a fat, feather-bedded patronage den."

Dunnings insists she's qualified. "My mother told me a long time ago that Jesus walked our Earth, and he had critics," she said.
"I just happen to be his cousin," she added. "But that is not Donna Dunnings in totality."

Stroger also introduced his choice for comptroller, Joseph Fratto, who has spent 16 years running the Chicago Park District's pension fund.
Hires former boss

Fratto was finance chief for Ed Kelly's patronage-laden park district in the early 1990s. He was also Stroger's boss for a time at the park district and is the brother of investment banker Tony Fratto, who was comptroller under Mayor Jane Byrne and whose firm now does substantial city bond business.

As Stroger was asked about whether clout played a role in Fratto's hiring, Fratto shook his head and rolled his eyes. He declined a request to be interviewed.

At the Chicago version of the Boston Tea party on taxes there were plenty of signs for Urkel, that said Urkel. Now's that a lot of respect for your Cook County President, isn't it? There were also plenty of signs that said Toddler. On the local news stations many reporters held up a quarter and asked people on the street did they know that Todd Stroger's tax roll back would save them that much on $100? None were thrilled with this big rollback, go figure.
Todd Stroger needs to know how to pronounce his new Chief of Staff's name, Joe Fratto. If you look at the expression on Fratto's face at the press conferences, you wonder how much longer before he bails on the Toddler. Of course he may just have to wait until the next election, with Forrest Claypool and Toni Preckwinkle ready to run for Cook County President, the Toddler's days could be numbered.

Todd Stroger's 25 cents on $100 tax rollback
Cook County President Todd Stroger wants to roll back a portion of the controversial sales tax increase the county board pushed through last year, a move he hailed as keeping a promise to taxpayers and criticized by others as a political chess maneuver leading up to the 2010 elections.

His proposal is to reduce the county portion of the sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent, taking Chicago's overall sales tax from its current national high of 10.25 percent to an even 10 percent.

That saves taxpayers in Cook County 25 cents for every $100 they spend.

Stroger said a rollback has always been a possibility since the board passed a 1 percent increase last July.

"We stated that if we thought there was a time where we would be able to roll it back or a portion of it, then we would do that - and that time has come upon us," Stroger said.

Stroger's move counts on expected federal stimulus dollars, though he couldn't provide an exact dollar figure for how much money the county expects to receive. Stroger's administration has said the 1 percent increase would generate close to $400 million.

Commissioners William Beavers and Joan Murphy backed Stroger's proposal, saying it provides some relief to taxpayers while being fiscally responsible.

Detractors questioned the wisdom of the rollback, considering Stroger had pushed to borrow millions - by issuing bonds - to cover operating costs.

"We didn't have this federal money two months ago, we didn't know what we were going to get. We didn't know if we'd get any money," Stroger said, responding to the criticism.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who is expected to challenge Stroger in next year's Democratic primary, branded the tax rollback a desperate attempt by an embattled incumbent to salvage his re-election bid.

"Other than fact that the election is closer, what's happened in the last month to lead people to believe we no longer have need for the money?" she said.

Preckwinkle questioned Stroger's judgment in pushing through a 1 percent increase in the first place - apparently more than the county needed - and proposing the rollback only after a new county budget was passed.

Stroger's proposal could be voted on during the May 5 election. If approved, it wouldn't go into effect until January. While there seems to be consensus among the commissioners that a rollback is necessary, there are at least two factions saying they want to wipe out last year's increase altogether.

Commissioner Tony Peraica is proposing to zap the 1 percent sales hike immediately, while a coalition of four commissioners wants to gradually phase out the increase. The group includes Forrest Claypool, Larry Suffredin, Timothy Schneider and Bridget Gainer, sworn in Wednesday to take over for Mike Quigley, who's heading to Congress.

"We've got to take it a step further," Claypool said of Stroger's proposal. "We've got to go all the way we need to repeal this onerous tax, this unfair tax that people are suffering under in one of the most difficult economies in our lifetime."

Lance Tyson bailed on Urkel

Chief of staff Lance Tyson came in with Stroger and has weathered two tough budget battles as well as a torrent of public criticism aimed at his boss.

Tyson, 36, is joining Freeborn & Peters in July as a partner in the firm's municipal finance and government law practice group, officials announced Tuesday.

Tyson pointed to the firm's "depth of resources and talent" in leading him to the job.

Tyson's departure has been rumored for months, and multiple names have surfaced as possible successors.

Tyson took the job largely out of respect for Stroger, a long-time friend, and because of his appreciation for public service.

An outspoken office leader who came into the job with ambitious plans, he often seemed frustrated and stymied by the myriad structural problems within Cook County government.

Tyson was not a seasoned political veteran, and sometimes had trouble navigating political waters in the county building. Still, he was well-liked and respected even by some of Stroger's harshest critics, largely because of the strategic and passionate approaches he brought to the table -- even after a heated TV debate or board meeting.

Tyson came to work for Stroger after leading a law firm specializing in public finance and real estate matters.

Tyson, an Iowa native, also spent time working for Mayor Daley.


The project Patrick Collins has taken on takes a lot of time and he is not being paid for it? So why did he leave the US Attorney's office again?

I wonder how well received by the Cook County Board Bridget Gainer will be? I suspect Todd Stroger, Bill Beavers and some of the GOP commissioners won't be too thrilled knowing she is a big Forrest Claypool supporter.

Last night on Chicago Tonight Eddie Arruza interviewed Congressman Mark Kirk who said we were ranked 45Th among states with job creation, and we have people leaving the State of Illinois, 700,000 was what he quoted. Cook County: 38, Henry County: 50, Knox County: 89, Macon County: 97, and Vermilion County: 100. According to the top 101 list NY and Ohio have more Counties on the list.

I found this site to be interesting. US Job data

Red light cameras subject to move without notice

As of the Chicago Tribune's printing this is where the cameras were. If they are not generating enough revenue, they will be moved to a more profitable intersection. Best tip yet, when in doubt stop, and hopefully the person behind you will too.

Arraingnment tomorrow for Blago

The Chicago Tribune ran a nice piece on the players, with the arraignment tomorrow this is a good summation

The federal court schedule indicates that the former governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, Springfield millionaire William Cellini and former chief fundraiser Christopher Kelly are to be arraigned at the same time. They were indicted along with the former governor.
Rod Blagojevich is charged with plotting to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Obama's election and a host of other offenses.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel is to preside over the case.

President Obama to speak at commencement at Notre Dame

This is not very Christian-like, but maybe since I am not Catholic, there is a different way of being Christian-like in the Catholic religion?

Cardinal Francis George called the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at its commencement an "extreme embarrassment" to Catholics.

"It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this inv itation," said George, who made his remarks at a conference Sunday hosted by the Chicago Archdiocese's Respect Life office in Rosemont.

In a video of George's speech posted Wednesday on lifesitenews.com, George calls Notre Dame "the flagship Catholic university" and said that it has "brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic."

Obama's positions on embryonic stem cell research and abortion have caused a firestorm of protest over his planned May 17 speech at Notre Dame.

Changes at Sox Park
A bigger 68' by 23' scoreboard? Don't people come to watch the game? At least they have an affordable meal plan option for $7, not the healthiest but affordable.

Ultimately, it's a huge television screen that allows you huge flexibility. The old one was automated, but for whatever reason, it got antiquated. We can show four games at a time in a rotation," Reifert said.

There's now a stairway on the east side of the atrium that leads directly to a bridge leading into the main concourse, and offers a stunning view of downtown.

"The view of the skyline is second to none," said Lou Hernandez, team director of public relations.
New enclosed escalators in the atrium will take fans to the upper deck. Elevators soon will be installed for the disabled, Reifert said. The ramps still are there for those who like to walk.

"On the South Side, homemade Italian meatballs are very popular. The meatballs are half pork and half ground beef with onions, garlic, tomato sauce and provolone cheese," Soto said.

Another new addition is the $7 Taste of the Ballpark - a hot dog, bag of popcorn, side of nachos, side of peanuts and a 14-ounce soft drink - available all over the ballpark.

Also new is gluten-free beer, granola bars and candy at the ballpark's Southside Grill.

Former Governor, and now indicted Rod Blagojevich
Key ethics points in the career of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who was indicted Thursday on 16 counts of wire fraud, racketeering and extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements in a “pay-to-play” scheme to trade government action for personal and political enrichment beginning in 2002:

• Blagojevich, 5 others indicted on corruption charges

Jan. 13: Blagojevich is sworn in.

April 16: Hires inspector general to investigate government corruption.

Dec. 9: Signs ethics legislation.


June 30: In a letter released publicly, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he has witnesses to “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” in the Blagojevich administration.

Oct. 11: Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top Blagojevich fundraiser, is indicted on federal charges of using his political influence to squeeze kickbacks from companies seeking to do business with the state.

Oct. 27: Stuart Levine, a Republican fundraiser who ingratiated himself with Rezko, pleads guilty to mail fraud and money laundering as part of the Rezko scheme, and agrees to cooperate.

Nov. 7: Blagojevich is re-elected, handily beating Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka.


April 22: Ali Ata, former director of the Illinois Finance Authority, pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about Rezko’s role in getting him his state job, testifies against Rezko and continues to cooperate in the investigation.

June 4: A federal jury convicts Rezko of fraud, money laundering and bribery.

Oct. 30: William Cellini, a major Illinois power broker, is indicted on charges of conspiring with Rezko to shake down an investment firm for campaign contributions to Blagojevich.

Dec. 9: Federal agents arrest Blagojevich on corruption charges that include an alleged effort to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Dec. 15: The Illinois House votes 113 to 0 to create a committee to study the allegations against Blagojevich and recommend whether he should be impeached.

Dec. 17: The Illinois Supreme Court rejects state Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s effort to remove Blagojevich from office. She had argued the governor’s legal and political troubles amounted to a disability.

Dec. 19: A defiant Blagojevich holds first press conference since his arrest, proclaims his innocence and says he will not resign.

Dec. 30: Blagojevich names former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace Obama in the Senate.


Jan. 8: A key House panel unanimously recommends impeachment for Blagojevich, setting up a vote of the full House.

Jan. 9: The Illinois House votes 114 to 1 to impeach Blagojevich, the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached.

Jan. 15: Burris sworn in as Obama’s replacement.

Jan. 23: Blagojevich holds a news conference to blast the upcoming Senate impeachment trial as unfair and says he won’t participate. Defense attorney Ed Genson announces he’s leaving the criminal case, suggesting Blagojevich wouldn’t listen to him.

Jan. 26: The Illinois Senate opens the impeachment trial; Blagojevich goes on a media blitz in New York to proclaim his innocence.

Jan. 29: Illinois Senate votes unanimously to remove Blagojevich from office and bar him from holding office in the future; Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn sworn in as governor.

April 2: Blagojevich is indicted with five co-defendants.

Now we can figure out who are the ABCs of the previous indictments, many of the ABCs are on this one as well

In a sweeping 19-count federal indictment, prosecutors allege Blagojevich discussed with aides the possibility he could get a Cabinet post in the new president's administration, substantial fundraising assistance or a high-paying job in exchange for the Senate seat.

In a sweeping 19-count federal indictment, prosecutors allege former Gov. Rod Blagojevich discussed with aides the possibility he could get a Cabinet post in the new president's administration, substantial fundraising assistance or a high-paying job in exchange for the Senate seat.

Prosecutors also charged Blagojevich, 52, and five members of his inner circle with plotting to line their pockets with millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, squeezing contractors, hospital owners and others seeking state business for kickbacks they planned to split after the governor left office.

"I'm saddened and hurt but I am not surprised by the indictment," Blagojevich, who was at Walt Disney World with his family, said in a statement. "I am innocent. I now will fight in the courts to clear my name."

The indictment alleges Blagojevich told an aide in 2006 he wanted to stall a $2 million state grant to a school championed by a congressman until the lawmaker's brother held a political fundraiser for the governor.

Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was the congressman, attorneys familiar with the case said Thursday. The attorneys spoke on condition of anonymity because the congressman isn't named in the indictment and the information is secret grand jury material.

At the time, Emanuel was the congressman from the 5th District on Chicago's North Side. Some of the funds were later released, even though no fundraiser had been held.

Blagojevich also is accused of seeking to withhold state aid from Tribune Co. unless the company fired unfriendly editorial writers at the Chicago Tribune.

In addition, Blagojevich was involved in a corrupt scheme to get a massive kickback in exchange for the refinancing of billions of dollars in state pension funds, according to the indictment.

Convicted fixer Tony Rezko paid Blagojevich's wife, Patti, a $14,396 real estate commission "even though she had done no work" to earn it and later hired her at a salary of $12,000 a month plus another $40,000 fee, the indictment said.

And, according to the indictment, Blagojevich told an aide he didn't want executives with two financial institutions getting further state business after he concluded they were not helping his wife get a high-paying job. She was not charged.

Others charged were brother Robert Blagojevich; former chief of staff Alonzo Monk; onetime chief fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly; Springfield lobbyist-millionaire William F. Cellini; and another former chief of staff, John Harris. Prosecutors said Harris has agreed to cooperate.

Rod Blagojevich was indicted on charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion, and making false statements. Most of those charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors said certificates of deposit, letters of credit and assets held by banks in name of or on behalf of Friends of Blagojevich of at least $188,370 are subject to forfeiture. If the money can't be found, Blagojevich might have to forfeit his Washington D.C. apartment and Chicago home.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on a criminal complaint and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald had faced a Tuesday deadline to supplant it with an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury. The Democrat's arrest led to his political downfall: The Illinois House impeached him Jan. 9. The Senate convicted him and removed him from office Jan. 29.

Thursday's indictment said that in 2003 - the former governor's first year in office - Blagojevich, Monk, Kelly and Rezko agreed to direct big-money state business involved in refinancing billions of dollars in pension bonds as part of a deal with a lobbyist who promised a massive kickback in return. The lobbyist wasn't identified.

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