Feds closing in on Blago, Murtha?

Key figures in separate investigations relating to the men have agreed to plea deals

By Alex Koppelman
July 9, 2009 3:30AM (UTC)
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If there's one thing federal prosecutors are good at -- and really, they're good at many things -- it's getting the little fish in an investigation to plead guilty and flip. In this manner, way up the ladder until they've got enough to go after the big target. It seems like they might have just done that in two separate corruption cases, one the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the other an investigation of defense contracting that may end up being related to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney prosecuting Blagojevich, seems to have quite a bit on the former governor already. But he added substantially to his case when Blagojevich's old chief of staff, John Harris, agreed to plead guilty to a wire fraud charge. The plea agreement makes clear that Harris will be testifying against his former boss, and will likely play a big role in Blagojevich's trial.


Separately, prosecutors in Pennsylvania got a plea agreement from Richard Ianeri, the former president of a defense contractor with close ties to Murtha. Federal prosecutors are already looking into a lobbying firm that was run by a former top aide of the congressman's, and investigating the possibility that the company directed bogus contributions to him.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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John Murtha D-pa. Rod Blagojevich