The prosecution’s rebuttal just wrapped up, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner telling jurors that Rezko’s defense lawyer, Joseph Duffy, tried to divert their attention by focusing to heavily on star prosecution witness Stuart Levine.
“No matter how much Mr. Duffy wants to make this trial about the secret life of Stuart Levine, that’s not what this trial is about,” he said. “There’s somebody else who’s being exposed – it’s the defendant [Rezko’s] secret life.”
Rezko’s secret life had nothing to do with drugs or the all-night parties Levine had at the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood. For Rezko, it was all about covering his tracks, telling people “don’t talk” to authorities and “there’s going to be a new U.S. Attorney to come in. The cooperators will be dealt with.”
Niewoehner then attacked Duffy’s characterization of other witnesses in the case. During his closing argument, Duffy noted that prosecution witness Joe Cari had been on antidepressants when he testified about a conversation with Rezko. He also said another witness, Richard Driehaus, talked to Rezko at a party where people were drinking alcohol.
Niewoehner described it as a smokescreen and pointed out that the witness testimony in the case was corroborated by conversations that the government was secretly recording in 2004.
The tape recorder, Niewoehner said, “doesn’t get drunk, it doesn’t get confused, it doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t have a plea deal. It records what’s said."
And, to finish off, he put together the pieces of evidence gleaned from the tapes, emails and documents to show that Rezko stood to get nearly $4 million should the government not have stepped in and begin charging participants in Rezko’s schemes, including Levine.
“This is a crime, ladies and gentlemen,” Niewoehner concluded. “This is a crime that involves the highest levels of power in the state of Illinois.”
Besides Rezko manipulating votes on a state teacher-pension board to enrich himself and his associates with illegal finder’s fees, “this is a crime that involves deciding where hospitals are going to be built . . . based on who’s willing to pay a bribe,” he said.
“The defendant, ladies and gentlemen, is not a victim here. If he is a victim, he’s victim of nothing else but his own greed.”