October 2008 Archives

Judge agrees to move Rezko sentencing

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A federal judge this morning officially postponed the sentencing of political fund-raiser Tony Rezko as he continues his discussions with the government.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve indefinitely postponed Rezko's Oct. 28 sentencing date and told the parties to meet again for a status in the case in December.
The sentencing, originally scheduled just before the Nov. 4 election, was likely to bring unfavorable publicity to Rezko's onetime friend Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Prosecutors and Rezko lawyers said this morning they did not want to set a future date for sentencing.
Rezko lawyer William Ziegelmueller said they sought the delay to: "work together to agree to otherwise narrow differences at sentencing."
The delay comes as evidence mounts that Rezko is providing information to federal prosecutors. The Sun-Times first reported Rezko's meetings with the feds in August and sources close to the investigation later confirmed the talks last month.
Ziegelmueller said this morning there was presently no deal in place otherwise "today would have been different." Ziegelmueller said Rezko remains in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
If a deal is worked out with the government, Rezko could prove to be the most valuable witness yet in an ongoing probe into state corruption under Gov. Blagojevich's administration.
On Tuesday, Blagojevich said he hoped Rezko "tells the truth" and said he wasn't worried about his former adviser and fund-raiser talking about him.
The governor pointed to a letter Rezko sent St. Eve earlier this year saying he wasn't going to make up lies about Obama and Blagojevich.
Ziegelmueller said both the letter and the governor's comments speak for themselves.
"I think everyone else can draw their own conclusions," he said.

Governor not worried about Rezko

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A day after prosecutors revealed his former adviser and fund-raiser is in talks with them, Gov. Blagojevich says he isn't worried.

Blagojevich pointed to a letter Tony Rezko wrote to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve earlier this year saying he was under pressure to say "the wrong things" about Blagojevich and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.
"Tony Rezko sent a letter to a judge. In that letter, he expressly states neither Sen. Obama nor I did anything wrong," Blagojevich told reporters this morning.
"That letter is a pretty strong statement. It speaks for itself."
Shortly after the letter was publicized, Rezko's lawyers said Rezko had never spoken to prosecutors.
That changed following Rezko's June conviction on corruption charges.
If Rezko does cut a deal with the feds, that letter -- sent to a federal judge -- will no doubt haunt him as a witness.
As we reported in an earlier story, it isn't necessarily a deal breaker.
Former prosecutor Zachary Fardon noted in a June 16th story Scott Fawell, former chief of staff to Gov. George Ryan, wrote a similar letter, saying he wouldn't make up lies about Ryan.
Fawell was the star witness in Ryan's trial.
"Do I think he could effectively be crossed on this letter? Yes," Fardon said. "Does that mean they can't call him or use him [as a witness]? No."

Feds checking out Rezko's story

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singing Higgins cartoon

There's evidence that at least one of the things Tony Rezko is talking to the feds about is Gov. Blagojevich and allegations related to his campaign fund. They've been calling up witnesses and asking them to talk -- or expand upon -- information Rezko has provided them, defense lawyers tell the Sun-Times. The calls have come in the weeks since Rezko first started meeting with federal authorities. Federal investigators have been probing Blagojevich's administration for some time. That includes investigating whether Blagojevich traded state posts or contracts in exchange for donations.
We first saw signs in August that Rezko covertly visited the federal courthouse from his recent residence at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Feds ask to strike Rezko's October sentencing

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Federal prosecutors just asked a judge to strike Tony Rezko's Oct. 28, sentencing -- acknowledging for the first time they are undergoing discussions with the political fund-raiser.
That could be good news for Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, since the previous sentencing was likely to bring unfavorable publicity about his former fund-raiser just days before the election.
In a motion filed hours ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar asked a federal judge to set a status hearing in the case in December, saying it was something the government and Rezko agreed on.
"The parties agree that the Oct. 28, 2008 sentencing date, as well as dates related to sentencing filings should be stricken while the parties engage in discussions that could affect their sentencing postures," Schar wrote.
The Sun-Times first reported Rezko's possible cooperation in August. Last week, sources close to the investigation told us the feds were in the process of vetting information from Rezko.

Feds look into Rezko's ties to Blago rehab

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FBI agents have focused their corruption efforts on Gov. Blagojevich's 2003 home renovation in their ongoing investigation into his administration and his personal finances.
Rezko's company did the work. The feds want to know who paid for it.
Read our exclusive coverage: Did Rezko pay for governor's home rehab?

Judge freezes Rezko money

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A federal judge has frozen about $105,000 of Tony Rezko's money, saying it will more than likely end up going to the government.
The money is a portion of the funds put up with the court to secure the political fund-raiser's bond earlier this year.
Rather than return it now that Rezko is in jail awaiting sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve froze it, agreeing with prosecutors that the money is traceable to proceeds from the sale of Rezko-controlled property.
Rezko is to be sentenced Oct. 28.
Rezko, who served as a top adviser to Gov. Blagojevich and fund-raiser to Blagojevich and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, has broken his silence and began talking with prosecutors in recent weeks.

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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