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Extortion Allegation In Blagojevich Trial

Published: June 15, 2010 11:41 am ET

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Lobbyist Alonzo 'Lon' Monk, a friend of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, testified against his friend yesterday during Blagojevich's corruption trial. Monk explained how he and the former governor planned how to get a $100,000 'donation' out of Maywood and Balmoral Park owner John Johnston in order for a favourable decision on pending legislation.

An article on explains that during deliberation Monk said Blagojevich personally had asked Johnston for the money a few months before the legislation passed. But when a cheque didn't materialize, Monk testified he was dispatched by Blagojevich to turn up the pressure and at one point met with Johnston at his track office in Melrose Park.

The FBI had bugged Blagojevich's campaign office, where it recorded exchanges by the former governor and Monk. Monk has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. The recording of a conversation between the two was played during the third day of Monk's testimony.

"He's (Blagojevich is) gonna sign the bill, and all of a sudden you're (Johnston) gonna give a contribution," the recording captured Monk as telling Blagojevich, when he was practicing what he would tell Johnston.

"Look, I want to go to him (Johnston) without crossing the line and say, 'Give us the (expletive) money," Monk said on the recording. "Give us the money, and one has nothing to do with the other (the bill signing), but give us the (expletive) money."

The article explains that prosecutors contend the exchange is a prime example of how Blagojevich illegally traded the powers of his office for campaign dollars, extorting those who sought action from state government. Monk is an early key witness that prosecutors hope will convince the jury Blagojevich was a schemer.

(With files from

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