A federal grand jury indictment of former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich includes charges that he and close aides sought financial gain and campaign contributions from investment companies seeking to do business with the $21.9 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System, Springfield.
The 75-page indictment announced Thursday alleges that the principle fraud scheme involving Mr. Blagojevich and five other defendants was directed at the Illinois Teachers Retirement System. Mr. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office in January.
The indictment charged Mr. Blagojevich with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and false statements among other charges. His brother, Robert, was charged with wire fraud. William F. Cellini and campaign fundraiser Christopher Kelly, were both charged with fraud conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion; and lobbyist Alonzo Monk and Rod Blagojevichs former chief of staff, John Harris, were both charged with wire fraud.
According to the indictment, Messrs. Kelly and Cellini along with Stuart Levine and Antoin Rezko, previously convicted for their roles in the TRS fraud sought in 2003 to control the activities of the TRS board.
Mr. Cellini had longstanding relationships and influence with trustees and staff members of the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois and was a director at Commonwealth Realty Advisors, a real estate manager for TRS, according to the indictment. Mr. Levine allegedly agreed to push TRS to invest in money managers and law firms that would make contributions to the Blagojevich campaign.
Messrs. Kelly and Cellini also are charged with a separate fraud conspiracy count alleging that, in 2004, the pair talked to Mr. Rezko and others about moving Jon Bauman, TRS executive director, to another job in state government to ensure he would not cooperate with law enforcement. Mr. Bauman, in an e-mail response to questions, declined to comment on the advice of counsel.
The indictment also claims Messrs. Kelly and Rezko asked investment firms interested in doing business with TRS for campaign contributions in order to get on TRS list of recommended managers.
In one example cited in the indictment, Messrs. Kelly, Cellini, Rezko and Levine blocked a $220 million investment approved by the TRS board to real estate manager Capri Capital unless they received a political donation from Thomas Rosenberg, a principal of the firm. The four relented after Mr. Rosenberg refused to pay and threatened to expose the extortion to law enforcement officers, the indictment states.
Rod Blagojevich and Messrs. Monk, Kelly and Rezko and other co-conspirators, were also accused of trying to direct the refinancing of Illinois pension obligation bonds to a company whose lobbyist said he would make a large kickback from the fees he collected to Mr. Rezko, who would split the money with Rod Blagojevich and Messrs. Monk and Kelly. The identity of the bond manager was not revealed in the indictment.
None of the defendants or their attorneys could be immediately reached for comment.