Tony Rezko: April 2008 Archives

Rezko trial: Finish line in sight

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Judge Amy St. Eve just told jurors that the trial is ahead of schedule.

There will be a two-day break from the trial (Tuesday and Wednesday) and then back Thursday morning.
Ali Ata is expected to take the stand Thursday afternoon. Lawyers will meet with the judge tomorrow to talk about the scope of Ata's testimony.

St. Eve told jurors she expects that the prosecution will rest its case early next week, probably Monday.
She also said closing arguments could happen May 12 and May 13.

Rezko trial: Who's on the phone with Tony?

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Tony Rezko had frequent -- but brief -- conversations with a number of top Illinois players and political insiders between 2003 and 2004.

Ex-inmate helps free Rezko from jail

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Mystery still surrounds Aiham Alsammarae, a onetime Iraqi official who fled from an Iraqi jail in 2006 after he was convicted on corruption charges there. Alsammarae lives in Oak Brook. Alsammarae and Rezko's friendship goes back decades. It became most evident last week, when court records showed that Alsammarae put up more than one-third of the property value to secure Rezko's bond.
Documents obtained by the Sun-Times raise questions over Alsammarae's status as a fugitive. They indicate that his conviction was vacated but he may be retried. However, an Interpol warrant remains active against Alsammarae. Alsammarae has maintained his innocence and says the charges against him are false.

The Sun-Times reported the story exclusively today : Fugitive puts up homes to spring Tony Rezko

Producer describes shakedown scheme

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Hollywood Producer Tom Rosenberg testified he was a victim of a shakedown scheme where he was asked to give $1.5 million in campaign contributions to Gov. Blagojevich if he wanted to continue to enjoy Illinois business. Rosenberg is the producer of the Oscar-winning "Million Dollar Baby," and of a new Katherine Heigl film, "The Ugly Truth."
The governor is not charged with any wrongdoing.

Read a summary of yesterday's testimony by Hollywood Producer Tom Rosenberg:

Today's story

Rezko trial: Associate talks of fee splitting

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Michael Winter, who worked with Tony Rezko at the Rezmar offices, said he spoke with Rezko in 2003 about splitting a finder's fee in relation to the Teachers' Retirement System. Winter testified he, Rezko and another Rezko associate, Dan Mahru, agreed to split a finder's fee in thirds.

Winter said Rezko at one point wanted a bigger share because he had to split some of his one-third with Chris Kelly. But Winter argued with him, saying he deserved more money because he was doing more of the work. In the end, the deal never went through Winter testified.

Rezko trial: Ata could be up next week

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Prosecutors said this morning in Tony Rezko's trial that Ali Ata, the newest explosive witness of the trial, could be called to the stand next Wednesday or Thursday.

Rove, Kjellander deny Fitzgerald plot

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Prosecutors want Tony Rezko jurors to hear about alleged plot to overthrow U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Read today's story

Rezko trial: Ata to be called as witness

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve today that the prosecution intends on calling Ali Ata as a witness in Rezko's trial.

In Ata's plea deal, he indicates he gave Rezko $125,000 in cash while he headed the Illinois Finance Authority.

Ata alleges that Rezko on numerous occasions demanded that Ata pay him tens of thousands of dollars in cash. Ata told the government he believed that his job as head of the IFA relied on his ability to please Rezko.

Ali Ata
Ali Ata is expected to testify against Rezko

Rezko trial: Witness chokes up on stand

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Tony Rezko entering the federal building.

Read today's story about Steve Loren's testimony: Cohort testifies about fee scheme

Rezko trial: "I don't pay money to get money."

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A highly successful Chicago fund manager and philanthropist Richard Driehaus takes the stand.

Driehaus said he met Tony Rezko at the home of mutual acquaintance Charles Hannon. Hannon, a longtime Rezko family friend, previously testified Rezko told Driehaus about an opportunity to do business with the state. Driehaus bolstered that testimony today. He said after a dinner at the Hannon Winnetka mansion, he and Rezko talked business in the basement.

Tony's back at home

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Will judge release Rezko on bond?

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When testimony concludes today, Judge Amy St. Eve will decide whether Tony Rezko should be released on bond. He's been in jail since he was arrested Jan. 28.

Though the circumstances are different in the Rezko case, St. Eve is the same judge who allowed bond for two defendants accused of having ties to Hamas terror funding. St. Eve allowed the two free on bond despite passioned pleas from the prosecution to keep them behind bars so they wouldn't flee.

Muhammad Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar didn't flee and were ultimately convicted on lesser charges.
During and before trial, St. Eve set tight restrictions on the two, including house arrest and requiring a GPS monitoring bracelet for Ashqar.

Non-Rezko trial over

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We heard about Obama, Blagojevich, David Wilhelm, Nadhmi Auchi, William Cellini, Bob Kjellander and don't forget Stuart Levine.

Today though, the allegations actually fall squarely on the defendant = Tony Rezko.

In so many words, witness Charles Hannon said Rezko offered he and his wife, Fortunee Massuda, a quid pro quo involving Gov. Blagojevich's controversial proposal to lease the Thompson Center. Rezko, who at the time owed the couple $7 million, offered to sign on Massuda as a consultant for whomever signed up to lease the State of Illinois Building -- known as the Thompson Center. Hannon said Rezko made the offer while in his office. It was an offer that Massuda flatly refused, Hannon testified.

Joe Cari and Tony Rezko both married women named Rita. Both women also had breast cancer, jurors learned today at Rezko's trial.

"I do remember a conversation that his [Rezko's] wife, unfortunately, had medical issues," Cari testified, recalling the time he met Rezko at Rezko's office. "I do remember Mr. Rezko speaking of his wife suffering from breast cancer."

Cari's wife died in 2002.

The Rezko family has not discussed Rita Rezko's breast cancer, but Mrs.
Rezko has been at her husband's trial every day and appears healthy.


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After Stuart Levine concluded his testimony, which stretched out over 15 days, he was seen near his lawyer's office (in the Monodnock Building a short walk from the federal building) giving a big hug to a member of his legal team.

Gov. Blagojevich was asked about the Rezko trial during a press event today.
Here's what he had to say:

"I'm not involved in that lawsuit. I should say I'm not in that lawsuit. I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on a pending case that I'm not in.

"Whether you are the lieutenant governor and your name is brought up in that situation, or the governor, or other political figures, that just sort of goes along with the territory."

On the witness stand, Joe Cari has detailed multiple attempts by Gov. Blagojevich and people close to him in 2003 and 2004 to solicit Cari's help in raising money for the governor on a national scale.

Joe Cari has testified that he was introduced to Gov. Blagojevich’s inner circle through Blagojevich’s former campaign manager and transition chief, David Wilhelm.

“David is one of my closest personal friends for 20 years. He was a pallbearer for my wife,” Cari said.

That led to a discussion about Cari’s state of mind since his wife’s passing from cancer in 2002.

“Had your wife passed in 2002?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid J. Schar asked.

“Yes sir,” Cari replied.

“Since that time, have you been on various medications for depression?”

Cari replied yes.

“Are you on medication now?”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you feel it affects your ability to remember events or occurrences?”


Later, Schar asked, “from time to time, does it take a little longer for you to digest everything?”

“That’s a very fair way of saying it,” Cari replied.

Joseph Cari has taken the stand. The former top fund-raiser for Democrats including Al Gore is telling jurors about his plea agreement. He says he's expecting a two-and-half-year sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Cari, who could have served as many as six years in prison, has admitted to participating in a shakedown of JER Partners, which was seeking state pension business.

After weeks of testimony, Stuart Levine might finally get off the witness stand today in Tony Rezko's corruption trial.

Rezko's lead defense lawyer, Joseph Duffy, wrapped up his cross-examination of Levine, the prosecution's star witness against Rezko, at noon.

The prosecution is doing its re-direct now.

As he finished questioning Levine, Duffy tried to show jurors that Levine was doing whatever it took to avoid a life sentence by testifying against Rezko. Levine is expected to spend 67 months in prison in exchange for his testimony.

"You understood that, in order to get this benefit, you had to cooperate against somebody, isn't that right?" Duffy asked Levine.

"Actually, Mr. Duffy, that was not my understanding," Levine replied.

After another Duffy question, Levine clarified what he meant.

"My understanding is as follows - that I understand that I would be asked questions that the government would put to me, that I would have to answer those questions honestly, and I would give the government that honest information as to whatever individual or subject matter I was asked about."

Natasha Korecki

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

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tony Rezko category from April 2008.

Tony Rezko: March 2008 is the previous archive.

Tony Rezko: May 2008 is the next archive.

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