I'm pretty sure it's illegal if you ask if them if they will give you a positive reference and they say that they will, then don't.
No, it's the same as a reference. You only put people you trust on your resume for that reason. It would be dirty and immoral, but not illegal.
On a side note, I just realized that my $10 data connection to my PC is as fast as my $60 hub from Verizon. (My PCS phone isn't with Verizon, but the hub is.)