Tag: Tony Rezko (page 2)

Rezko: Government to Rest Case Monday, Defense by Wednesday

The trial of Tony Rezko is wrapping up. The Chicago Tribune reports the Government is expected to rest Monday.

The Tribune says the evidence against Rezko has been largely circumstantial and without a smoking gun to support the allegations of its cooperating star witness, the self-admitted drug-abuser and fixer Stuart Levine, who sang for his supper for weeks on the stand.

Jurors will have to pull together a variety of moving pieces if they are to agree on Rezko's guilt. There is no smoking gun evidence, no clear money trail of kickbacks into Rezko's pocket and no wiretap that indisputably captured Rezko in the act of scheming. Instead, jurors were taken on a disturbing ride through the dark underbelly of Illinois government.

To fix this, the Government this week called on Ali Ata, who had pleaded guilty days earlier and could use the sentencing break the government was offering for his Rezko testimony (8 years down to one.) The Tribune says Ata was called to support Levine's accounts rather than to provide a smoking gun against Rezko. [More...]

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Rezko Trial: More Testimony about Removing Fitzgerald

Over objections by lawyers for Tony Rezko, Ali Ata testified today at Rezko's criminal trial. (Background on Ata, who pleaded guilty last week here.)

Ata testified Rezko told him "a plan was in place" to remove Patrick Fitzgerald as U.S. Attorney.

Mr. Rezko informed me that they had just finished meeting with Mr. [Robert] Kjellander and that there will be a change in U.S. attorney's office come the new administration," Ata said. And how would there be a change?

"Mr. Kjellander will talk to Karl Rove and make a change in the U.S. attorney's office," Ata said. He knew from Rezko that Kjellander was a GOP operative and had a direct relationship with Rove, at the time a top adviser to President Bush. Kjellander is Illinois' Republican national committeeman. Both he and Rove have denied the allegations.

Ata is singing for his supper. He's expecting a sentence of one year instead of eight for his testimony against Rezko.

Here's an assortment of the latest Rezko trial news.

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Rezko Witness: Rezko Said Fitzgerald Would Be Replaced

A former associate of Tony Rezko's testified at his trial today that Rezko told him U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald would be replaced and the investigation into his conduct would end.

Elie Maloof just testified that when he received a grand jury subpoena, Rezko told him not to talk to the feds. Why? "The federal prosecutor will no longer be the same federal prosecutor," Maloof just testified that Rezko told him. What did Rezko mean prosecutor Chris Niewoehner asked? "That Patrick Fitzgerald would be terminated and Dennis Hastert will name his replacement. The investigation will be over."

Maloof, who once helped run some of Rezko's fast-food businesses, said Rezko told him of Fitzgerald's replacement: "That they will order the prosecutor to stop the investigation."
It is the first time jurors heard an accusation that Rezko worked behind the scenes to oust Fitzgerald.

The Sun Times also reports that the Judge and lawyers have been working hard to keep Barack Obama's name from surfacing in the trial.

Maloof left the stand without ever invoking Barack Obama's name, despite previous allegations by prosecutors that he made a straw donation for Rezko to Obama's Senatorial campaign fund. It is clear that lawyers -- and the judge -- have been careful not to bring Obama's name into case, even outside the presence of the jury.

Maloof is testifying under a grant of immunity. More on that here.

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Judge Releases Tony Rezko on Bail

Bump and Update: There is joy in the Tony Rezko household tonight. The Judge ordered him released on bail, with a condition of home confinement.


Tony Rezko's friends and family have put together $8 million for his bail. The Judge has said she will rule today on whether she will grant him bail with a condition of home confinement.

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Rezko Trial Witness Says Obama Attended Party for Auchi at Rezko's Mansion

Bump and Update: The Chicago Sun Times now has the testimony and more details, including that Michelle Obama was at the party and the date:

When Tony Rezko held a reception at his home for Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi on April 3, 2004, White House hopeful Barack Obama and his wife were also there, Stuart Levine testified just now at Rezko's trial.

Auchi is the man who provided Rezko a $3.5 million loan that Rezko did not disclose to the court -- resulting in his January arrest. "Mr. and Mrs. Obama were there, were they not?" Rezko lawyer Joseph Duffy asked. "Yes, sir," Levine said. Obama and his aides have said Obama has no recollection of ever meeting Auchi.

Here's the Sun-Times article about Obama meeting Auchi at the Four Seasons, which I reference below.

Original Post:

There was a surprise at the Tony Rezko trial today. The Government's star cooperating witness, Stuart Levine, said Barack Obama was at a party for Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi at Rezko's house. [More...]

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Rezko Lawyer Gets His Shot at Government Star Witness

Tony Rezko's lawyer Joe Duffy seems to be off to a great start in cross-examining the Government's star witness, Stuart Levine, according to the Chicago Tribune live-blog.

Read through the whole day's events. Most of it addressed Levine's copious drug use and poor memory.

Levine has been on the stand for more than a week testifying for the Government, detailing his life of crime and bringing Tony Rezko and other former Levine associates into it whenever he could.

After all, he's singing for his supper. And so long as he stays on tune, even if Rezko is acquitted, Levine gets one heck of a deal: Check out his plea agreement (pdf). It might be the longest one I've ever seen, 58 pages, particularly as to the factual recitation of the crimes Levine admits, but more significant are the numbers. Levine's guideline range before his snitch bonus is a level 43, category I, or mandatory life in prison, no parole -- there is no parole in the federal system. On a life sentence, the only way you come out is in a pine box.

The plea agreement provides for a Rule 11[c][1][c] agreed-upon sentence of 67 months. (See paragraph 22 on page 53.) Should the judge not agree and want to give him more, he gets to take his plea back.

From life in prison to 67 months, and all he has to do is tell the truth -- the Government's truth -- that Rezko was a crook too.

Levine sounds like a disgusting, pathetic, broken man. The Government, in propping him up to bring down Rezko, is stooping to his morally bankrupt level.

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Star Witness Testifies in Rezko Trial

The Government's star witness, Stuart Levine, took the stand Monday in the corruption trial of Tony Rezko. He's a defense dream for a witness.

Levine was charged with corruption along with Rezko but pleaded guilty and agreed to testify. Technically, Levine could be sentenced to life in prison, but he said he hoped prison time would be limited to about 51/2 years in return for his cooperation with the government.

Levine dressed for and sounded the part assigned to him by the Government:

He displayed the demeanor of a practiced public speaker and lawyer and hardly the picture of a strung-out drug abuser that Rezko's attorneys hope will damage his credibility.

What about that drug use? [More...]

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Obama Tells Sun Times Rezko is Still a Friend

In addition to being interviewed by the Chicago Tribune this week about Tony Rezko, Barack Obama also sat down for an interview with the Chicago Sun Times. More statements by Obama from the Sun Times interview:

Is Rezko still a friend?

"Yes,'' Obama said, "with the caveat if it turns out the allegations are true, then he's not who I thought he was, and I'd be very disappointed with that.''

And it's that friendship, Obama said, that probably kept him from realizing it was a mistake to enter into a real estate deal with Rezko.

"Probably because I'd known him for a long time, and he'd acted in an aboveboard manner with me," he said. "And I considered him a friend. ... It's further evidence that I'm not perfect.''

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kaas writes today about Obama's latest statements, "It's almost believable. As in, almost, but not quite.

The audio of the 80 minute Sun Times interview is here. The transcript is here (pdf).

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Obama Says Rezko Played a Bigger Fundraising Role Than Previously Known

In a just published interview with Sen. Barack Obama, the Chicago Tribune reports:

Indicted Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko was a more significant fundraiser for presidential candidate Barack Obama's earlier political campaigns than previously known. Rezko raised as much as $250,000 for the first three offices Obama sought, the senator told the Tribune on Friday.

Obama also said for the first time that his private real estate transactions with Rezko involved repeated lapses of judgment. The mistake, Obama said, was not simply that Rezko was under grand jury investigation at the time of their 2005 and 2006 dealings. "The mistake was he had been a contributor and somebody involved in politics," he said.

Repeated lapses of judgment. The Tribune says that's how Obama views it.

The interview raises another question: Obama's naivite.

Obama said that when he questioned Rezko about news reports of his questionable political dealings, his friend assured him there was nothing wrong. "My instinct was to believe him," he said.

He relied on his "instinct" and didn't do anything to verify it. [More...]

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Rezko Trial Continues

The corruption trial of Tony Rezko continued Monday. At one point, Barack Obama's name surfaced in connection with recommendations for job appointments:

Obama's name surfaced briefly Monday as Rezko's lawyers introduced a series of e-mail exchanges in June 2003 involving lobbyist Matthew Pickering, Blagojevich lawyer Susan Lichtenstein and Monk, then the governor's chief of staff.

Pickering worked in the lobbying firm of David Wilhelm, who ran Blagojevich's 2002 campaign. In one e-mail, Pickering laid out a list of four people he and Wilhelm wanted Blagojevich to consider for appointment to the hospital planning board. Pickering also mentioned that the firm had worked closely with several top legislators, Obama included, in pushing legislation to overhaul the hospital board.

Lawyers for Rezko said the e-mail did not suggest a connection between Obama and the candidates pushed by Wilhelm for the hospital panel.

The New York Times reports on the e-mail:[More...]

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Rezko Trial: Recap Day One

Bump and Update: Rezko's lawyer mentioned Barack Obama while sliming the government's star cooperating witness Stuart Levine in opening argument:

Duffy mentions Levine's close political ties to the late Mayor Harold Washington, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill), former Gov. Jim Edgar and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) as examples of how connected Levine was.

Wait, we may need a transcript. Politico says Duffy mentioned Obama as one of many politicians Rezko, not Levine, was connected to. Which is it? The Chicago Sun Times version is similar to Politico's.

Day One trial testimony: The first and probably only witness today is Kelly Glynn, former finance director for Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. She said Rezko was a top bundler. The Government queried her about Chris Kelly, Blagojevich's chief fundraiser and an alleged "co-schemer" of Rezko's. She then moved on to William Cellini.

Glynn said Republican power broker William Cellini held a fundraising event for Blagojevich, a Democrat, at a suburban hotel. She said she, Kelly and a co-worker would meet at Rezko's office to discuss fundraising strategy. Glynn testified that Rezko held the first post-election party for the governor at his Wilmette mansion.

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Rezko Jury Selected: Opening Arguments Tomorrow

The jury has been selected in Tony Rezko's federal criminal trial. Opening arguments are tomorrow. Each side is expected to take an hour to present their arguments.

The Judge is not disclosing which jurors were selected, either by number or name.

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