Lawyers allege state Sen. Donne Trotter took $2,000 in FBI sting

SHARE Lawyers allege state Sen. Donne Trotter took $2,000 in FBI sting

State Sen. Donne Trotter took $2,000 in cash from a convicted felon who got the money from an undercover FBI agent posing as an Indian businessman, lawyers for a South Side man allege.

And C. Gregory Turner’s attorneys hinted that other Chicago politicians also were approached as part of a federal sting in 2009.

Turner is due to stand trial later this month for illegally lobbying on behalf of Zimbabwean president and international pariah Robert Mugabe.

Trotter — who last year pleaded guilty to reckless conduct for attempting to take a gun onto a flight at O’Hare Airport — is a key government witness against Turner, who’s accused of a failed bid to open a back channel to President Barack Obama through Chicago politicians in an attempt to have U.S. sanctions against Mugabe and his ruling elite lifted.

But at a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Turner’s lawyers James Tunick and Michael Irving Leonard revealed they want to cross-examine Trotter about the alleged bribe, which they said was delivered by Turner’s former co-defendant, Prince Asiel Ben Israel.

“An FBI agent posing as an Indian businessman gave Prince money,” Tunick told U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo. “Prince then gave the money to the state senator.

“He didn’t report it as a political contribution.”

Trotter did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday afternoon, but Prosecutor Barry Jonas told the judge that Trotter “cannot recall” receiving the cash.

Jonas acknowledged that the undercover agent gave money to Ben Israel to pass to a state senator, but said they only have Ben Israel’s word that the cash was delivered to Trotter.

Ben Israel has since pleaded guilty to failing to register as an agent of Mugabe, and Jonas said that there was no evidence of any “quid pro quo” Trotter performed in return for the alleged bribe.

Earlier Wednesday, Turner’s lawyers told the judge that Mugabe has indicated “behind the scenes . . . that maybe he wanted to testify” on Turner’s behalf by giving a deposition when he visits New York next week for a United Nations meeting.

Bucklo has yet to rule on whether she will order Mugabe deposed. She also has yet to decide whether jurors can see a 2006 video of Vice President Joe Biden meeting with Gideon Gono, the governor of the Zimbabwean National Bank, who also is a target of U.S. sanctions.

Turner claims that because Biden — a U.S. senator at the time, who had sponsored the sanctions bill — had met with Gono, Turner thought he’d be OK helping out Zimbabwean leaders.


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