An attorney for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former chief of staff John Harris said last week this client intends to soon change his plea to guilty from not guilty on corruption charges as part of a deal to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their case against the former governor.
Harris was arraigned on Thursday. He was among six charged, including Blagojevich, in a 19-count indictment announced earlier this month. Harris entered a guilty plea but his attorney said he was working out a plea agreement with prosecutors and planned to change the plea within the next 30 days.
The indictment also targets another former chief of staff, Alonzo Monk, the governor’s brother, Robert Blagojevich, businessman William F. Cellini Sr., and Blagojevich fundraiser Chris Kelly. They are charged with seeking to use the governor’s ability to influence state legislation, jobs, and contracts for personal gain — including the selection of Bear, Stearns & Co. to lead the state’s $10 billion pension bond sale in 2003.
The indictment included charges — first revealed last December in a criminal complaint when Blagojevich and Harris were arrested — that Blagojevich allegedly sought to use his power to appoint President Obama’s Senate replacement for personal gain. They also threatened to withhold financial aid to the Tribune Co. involving its sale of Wrigley Field if an editorial board writer was not fired.
The indictment also revealed a new allegation that kickbacks were sought in connection with the pension deal awarded to Bear through its contract with Robert Kjellander, who received an $800,000 fee.