September 2008 Archives

Rezko: Prosecutors hush on talks

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In 37 pages, U.S. prosecutors on Monday gave a federal judge numerous reasons why Tony Rezko's guilty verdict should stay intact.
Nowhere did they acknowledge that Rezko has been sitting at the table with them.
The court filing comes as a legal answer to a request by Rezko's lawyers to throw out the jury's verdict, or order a new trial -- a pretty standard request. Rezko's lawyers said the case relied too heavily on a shaky witness, Stuart Levine. But prosecutors pointed to secret recordings and the testimony of numerous additional witnesses as corroborative evidence.
Even as publicity increases over Rezko's possible cooperation, the filing illustrates that, for now, Rezko's post-trial issues, including his Oct. 28 sentencing, remain on track regardless of his recent conversations with the prosecution.
Last month, the Sun-Times reported the possibility that Rezko was meeting with the feds. This weekend, sources close to the investigation confirmed to the Sun-Times that Rezko is in the midst of intense talks with prosecutors.

Rezko's "intense" discussions with feds

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Just weeks before he is to be sentenced, political fund-raiser Tony Rezko is in the midst of intense discussions with federal investigators, sources close to the investigation confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times.
There's no question federal authorities are interested in Rezko, a former top adviser and fund-raiser to Gov. Blagojevich, as a federal witness. But one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, warned it's too early to call the discussions full-fledged cooperation.
But already, Rezko has provided information to the feds who are in the process of vetting it, sources say.
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the liklihood of Rezko's cooperation one month ago, following accounts from various sources who saw Rezko being brought into the federal courthouse from the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Rezko had no court appearances during that time. One source, who asked not to be identified, told the Sun-Times in the Aug. 28th report that Rezko was twice seen inside the U.S. Attorney's office following his conviction. Rezko's lawyer, Joseph Duffy, called that contention of Rezko inside the prosecution's office, "bogus."
On Friday, Rezko's lawyers could not be reached for comment.
The implications of Rezko's cooperation are innumerable. His reach as a businessman, political adviser, real estate mogul and political fund-raiser has the potential to take federal authorities from Springfield to Iraq. Rezko not only was privy to inside meetings with the governor, but engaged in numerous real estate dealings with his wife, Patti.
The governor's office has denied that the first lady's business dealings with Rezko had anything to do with his influence in her husband's administration.
Federal authorities have long sought Rezko's cooperation in their ongoing probe into the governor. A few months before his conviction, Rezko wrote a letter saying prosecutors were pressuring him
to give them information on Blagojevich and White House hopeful Barack Obama. At that time, Duffy told the Sun-Times Rezko had never met with, or spoken to prosecutors.
One source with knowledge of the investigation into the governor and into his wife, Patti Blagojevich's, real estate dealings say the probe is going "at top speed."
Rezko is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 28. He then faces two more trials, including another in Chicago federal court next year.

Rezko's lawyers want verdict thrown out

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Lawyers for political fund-raiser Tony Rezko are asking a federal judge to throw out his conviction, saying his case relied too heavily on an unreliable witness.
In a 25-page motion filed Friday in federal court, defense attorneys also said prosecutors never showed Rezko had an interest in a key kickback scheme at issue in his case and failed to prove a mailing happened in one of the mail fraud counts.
Rezko, 53, of Wilmette was convicted in June of widespread corruption tied to state deals. He is a former top adviser and fund-raiser to Gov. Blagojevich and a fund-raiser to Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Central to Rezko's trial was testimony from cooperator Stuart Levine, who sat on two state boards and said he held a corrupt relationship with Rezko. Defense lawyers say Levine can't be believed because his own crimes and substantial drug use motivated him to lie.
"The court should order a new trial on the ground that the record in this case, polluted as it is by the inherently unreliable testimony of Levine, leaves such a strong doubt as to Rezko's guilt that it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand," wrote one of Rezko's lawyer, Mariah Moran.
Rezko is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 28.

Natasha Korecki

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

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