By Natasha Korecki
Federal Courts Reporteremail@example.com
Convicted businessman Tony Rezko -- who is poised to become a crucial witness in the massive corruption case against ex-Gov. Blagojevich -- was quietly moved out of a downtown jail and into another facility last month, the Sun-Times has learned.
Authorities seeking Rezko's cooperation pushed for the move after Rezko complained about being held in the tough confines of solitary imprisonment, known as "the hole," even as he was providing information to prosecutors, sources said.
U.S. Bureau of Prisons records show Rezko was released from the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown on Dec. 16.
Kim Widup, the U.S. Marshal in Chicago, said Rezko was relocated.
"He is still in marshal service custody," Widup said. "We have moved him into another institution."
Widup wouldn't specify the new lockup, but the Marshal's Service uses space in more than half a dozen county jails in Illinois and Wisconsin in addition to the MCC.
Rezko's relocation is a sign that even with thousands of taped conversations of the governor, investigators still highly value Rezko's potential as a witness. The MCC is considered by some inmates to have harsher conditions than county jails.
Upon his conviction in early June of schemes involving state deals, Rezko went to jail voluntarily, saying he wanted to start serving his time. Then, in August, the Sun-Times first reported that the 53-year-old Wilmette resident began meeting with prosecutors.
Rezko, who served as an adviser and fund-raiser to Blagojevich, provided authorities with substantial information involving the governor and bolstered pay-to-play testimony by former Illinois Finance Authority director Ali Ata, as well as talking about other alleged deals.
But the talks hit a stumbling block when Rezko grew frustrated at being held in solitary at the MCC. In late November, Rezko's lawyers asked a federal judge to sentence their client -- a threat to stop talking. Cooperating defendants usually aren't sentenced until after they testify. But after that move, the two sides appeared to find a resolution. On Dec. 16, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve indefinitely postponed Rezko's sentencing -- that was the same day he was moved to another jail.