CHICAGO - The birth of a conspiracy to profit from Rod Blagojevich's position came as early as 2003 when the then-governor met with three advisers to discuss how to make money and divvy the spoils, a witness testified Wednesday.
In dramatic testimony at Blagojevich's corruption trial, onetime chief of staff Alonzo Monk said the two of them, along with fund-raisers Tony Rezko and Christopher Kelly, discussed ways they could profit through state action.
Monk said that the group calculated that each of several schemes would raise $100,000 each and that the money would be divided up equally among the four. But Monk said he and Blagojevich would get the money only after the governor left office.
"We didn't want to be receiving that money when Rod was in office, where there was potentially a lot of scrutiny . . . [from] some law enforcement agency.. . . It could have been the media also," he said.
As for why he was so concerned, he said: "In all likelihood, it would be wrong and breaking the law."
The money, Monk said, "would be held in separate accounts that would be difficult to locate." He added that Rezko would oversee those accounts.
Monk has pleaded guilty and took the witness stand in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence. Much of his testimony so far has been aimed at the racketeering portion of the charges against Blagojevich.
The former governor has pleaded not guilty to scheming to profit from his power to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama and squeeze people for campaign contributions. If convicted, Blagojevich could get up to 415 years in prison and fines totaling $6 million.
The group referred to themselves as "one, two, three, four," Monk said. He said the first person to talk to him about making money from state actions was Kelly, who was found dead last year in what police say was a suicide.
One of several schemes the men discussed but never implemented, Monk said, was to set up an insurance company that would draw thousands of dollars of state business - directed to it by the Blagojevich administration.
In his earlier testimony, Monk talked about how eager Blagojevich was to raise campaign funds, how Kelly and Rezko raised millions for him, and how the governor rewarded them by showering them with patronage.
Sounding calm, Monk said Kelly and Rezko were in on deciding who got jobs in the Blagojevich administration, recommending heads of several key departments, including insurance, housing, and transportation agencies.
Rezko, a Blagojevich fund-raiser, was convicted of fraud in 2008.
In his opening statement Tuesday, defense attorney Sam Adam portrayed Monk as someone who had dazzled and befriended Blagojevich as a younger man, then betrayed him when he was governor.