By Natasha Korecki
Federal Courts Reporter
At one point last week during his testimony, Stuart Levine said he talked with Tony Rezko about negative headlines that were stirred up from an unpopular board vote.
When Levine brought up the critical newspaper articles, Rezko gave him a “dour” look, Levine testified. Levine interpreted the look to mean that Rezko didn’t want to hear any criticism about that vote, which Rezko’s accused of orchestrating.
Listening from the defendant’s table that day, Rezko quietly laughed to himself and shook his head as if to say: “you gotta be kidding me.”
It wasn’t the first time Rezko reacted that way as Levine talked on the stand.
But he doesn’t have much time to discuss disagreements with his lawyers. Rezko has been in custody since his January arrest, leaving lawyers with pretty limited time to talk to Rezko about his highly complicated case.
So this week, while the trial’s off, Rezko’s lawyers are likely taking the time to meet with their client to help combat Levine’s testimony. Rezko is in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He was taken into custody after prosecutors argued he failed to disclose a $3.5 million overseas loan.
Chicago defense lawyer Rick Halprin, who represented Joey “the Clown” Lombardo at last summer’s Family Secrets trial, said the limited access “puts enormous pressure on the defense and the need for constant communication. It’s impossible if he’s in custody.”
It’s an added hurdle when a witness is testifying over multiple weeks about numerous conversations and recordings. Though the defense knows much about the government’s evidence before trial, something always comes up, one Chicago defnese lawyer said.
“You do not know where a witness is going to go off the paper,” Halprin said. “And it happens at every single trial.”
Levine, the government’s chief witness, dropped quite a few bombshells since taking the stand last Tuesday.
And he hasn’t yet talked of an alleged extortion scheme, a major allegation within the charges against Rezko.
Rezko’s lawyer, Joseph Duffy, has said Levine, who brokered a deal in exchange for his testimony, has plenty reason to lie from the stand. Duffy asked jurors to withhold judgement on Levine until he has the opportunity to cross examine him.