Rezko trial: What you need to know as prosecution wraps up

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The closing week of the prosecution’s case was pivotal in bolstering its contention that Blagojevich fund-raiser Tony Rezko pulled the strings in state government. At the same time, witnesses painted a picture of a Rezko who needed money and made demands for campaign cash. That gives motive to prosecution’s contentions that Rezko pocketed kickbacks from firms seeking state contracts.

Prosecution to rest today: Prosecutors say they will rest their case after calling one more witness after Ali Ata.

Defense not far behind: Rezko lawyers say their case will be brief -- possibly beginning and ending today or Tuesday.

Read on for highlights of witness testimony last week.

Ali Ata: Testified that Rezko asked him to contribute to Gov. Blagojevich’s campaign fund before Ata landed his post as Illinois Finance Director. He then said Rezko shook him down for $125,000 in cash -- some of it, he said Rezko told him, was allegedly used to pay off debts for the governor and a governor fund-raiser Chris Kelly. He also testified that Rezko told him of a plot to oust U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and that Rezko told him not to talk to the feds because of it.

Semir Sirazi: Important but overlooked testimony came from 10-year Rezko pal Sirazi, who testified that he did consulting work for Rezko’s company, Rezmar. But he wasn’t paid. Sirazi told of several meetings with Rezko, in which Rezko promised payment. But his checks bounced. Finally, Rezko said he’d wire the money into Sirazi’s account. The wire for $66,000 came from JAA Enterprises, LLC -- an entity Sirazi didn’t know. Turns out that’s the same JAA belonging to Joseph Aramanda. Earlier in the trial, testimony indicated money from a kickback scheme went to JAA investments and was meant for Rezko. Sirazi connected the dots for jurors, showing Rezko used Aramanda to move money.

Elie Maloof: Maloof was a Rezko associate who said when he received a grand jury subpoena, Rezko told him not to talk to the feds. Maloof said Rezko told him:
“The federal prosecutor will no longer be the same federal prosecutor ... Patrick Fitzgerald would be terminated and Dennis Hastert will name his replacement. The investigation will be over.” What’s more significant is what Maloof didn’t testify about: allegations that Maloof was a straw donor to Barack Obama’s Senatorial campaign. Obama has since donated the Maloof money to charity. Lawyers in the case -- and the judge -- were careful to never bring up Obama’s name. Rezko once served as an Obama fund-raiser.

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4 Comments


It is really sad to realize the times we are in today. This whole
fiasco surrounding the Tony Rezko case has the media, particularly the Sun-Times reporting this very slanted and biased
news. It seems to me there are forces out there who want to destroy the twice-elected governor of Illinois pretty badly. They are trying to pass recall bills in the Illinois legislature; the
republican-inspired federal prosecutors in the Tony Rezko case are
going after Rezko to get to the governor. And the Sun-Times is facilitation this perception by reporting every nuance of innuendo
that could damage the governor. I am very familiar with how these
underhanded, dirty politics work. However, throughout all of the
news I have read in the Chicago Sun-Times on this issue, I have yet to read a single item of information that is rooted in fact--
--it is all conjecture. Furthermore, many of us know that federal
prosecutors will threaten a prospective witness with false charges and force them to cooperate by having them ly on the witness stand to achieve a conviction. I remember the days when there was integrity in the news reporting industry
I am not swayed or fooled.

Glendell, how are you related to Tony?

How can you credibly state that Blagojevich is the victim due to "Republican-inspired" federal prosecutors. Are you really questioning the integrity of federal prosecutors over Blagojevich?

What about the fast-trickery Blago has been pulling for years with state government? What about his father-in-law's own claims, later hastily retracted? What about Blago's refusal to be forthright about the subpoenas he and his administration have been served with?

What about the fact that these federal prosecutors have already put GOP ex-guv George Ryan behind bars? What about all the other cases, b0th GOP and Dem, that they are handled?

You provide no factual justification for your claim that Blago is being set up.

"a set up" you must be kidding. What about Cellini, Kjellander and Hurtgen. They were all big GOP guys. No, this is case of pure greed- Knight E/A, Blago, Rezko companies, funneling jobs to people who will provide kickbakcs- Keiferbaum- it's all about poltics and too much money in the system. Oh, we forgot about TRS. Kick backs for recieving money fromt he retirement fund.

No, they set themselves up.

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Natasha Korecki

Natasha Korecki is the Federal Courts Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, covering federal news, corruption investigations and trials.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on May 5, 2008 9:54 AM.

Rezko trial: Man on the run was the previous entry in this blog.

Witness: I wore a wire after I was threatened is the next entry in this blog.

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