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Secret Tapes Helped Build Graft Cases In Illinois

Joseph Cari, a former DNC official, pleaded guilty to extortion.
Joseph Cari, a former DNC official, pleaded guilty to extortion. (Charles Rex Arbogast - AP)
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In court filings, prosecutors said "Individual A" was a subject but not a target of the criminal investigation into the health planning board. The government source is helping authorities because he hopes to win immunity from prosecution, the FBI affidavit said. Wyma has not been charged with wrongdoing.

"Mr. Wyma has made efforts to provide federal investigators with truthful information regarding the matters under investigation and will continue to do so," lawyer Zachary Fardon said.

The Blagojevich tapes opened yet another path for investigation, based on his alleged claims that he would sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. Fitzgerald has said he moved to arrest the governor and top aide, John Harris, because he feared that some of the schemes were about to be carried out.

Jackson, who is mentioned in court papers as a candidate eager for the Senate post, told reporters that he spoke with Wyma about his interest in the job this year. Unnamed "emissaries" for Jackson allegedly promised to raise $1.5 million for Blagojevich, according to the FBI affidavit.

Fitzgerald's team has scrambled to interview Jackson, as well as members of the Obama transition team who talked with Blagojevich about the appointment. A spokesman for Jackson said the lawmaker had told authorities about his tangle with Blagojevich, in which the congressman says the governor rejected Jackson's wife for a lottery post after Jackson failed to raise $25,000 for the Blagojevich campaign.

Lawyers and political analysts who have followed Operation Board Games and the work of Fitzgerald describe the government strategy as a textbook model. At his Dec. 9 news conference, for instance, the prosecutor all but invited victims and the perpetrators of shakedowns to come forward.

Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois, said Fitzgerald used indictments to pressure the governor's confidants to turn on one another.

"It's a message: You are in my sights, and I'd like to get you to come in and talk to me," Redfield said. "It puts pressure on the person you indicted and puts on notice the next person up the chain."

In seven years as U.S. attorney in Chicago, Fitzgerald generally has won strong reviews from government and defense lawyers alike. Obama is said to be considering keeping Fitzgerald in his job even though the coveted spots typically turn over with a new administration. But defense lawyers who have faced Fitzgerald say he can be hard-nosed when it comes to even small fish trapped in the government's net.

One former prosecutor who knew Fitzgerald 20 years ago, when the U.S. attorney was a junior defense lawyer, said he was zealous in pursuit of his goals and offended by violations of the public trust.

"His line between right and wrong is very bright, and it's very easy for him to see that line," the former prosecutor said. "If there's a brick wall, he'll take it down brick by brick."

Staff writer Joe Stephens, research editor Alice Crites and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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