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...]

Ata's role on the stand was akin to damage control after Rezko's defense team shot gaping holes in the credibility of Stuart Levine, the government's drug-addled and memory-challenged star witness.

The message to jurors was this: Even if you can't stomach Levine, here's another insider who says Rezko ran a shadow government under Gov. Rod Blagojevich and was unafraid to use his clout for personal gain.

The reporter for the Chicago Sun Times paints a more favorable portrait for the Government.

Ata has proven to be a key witness for the prosecution, testifying that Rezko held vast power in the governor's administration and shook him down for cash.

But yet another reporter for the Tribune says Rezko's lawyer scored points discrediting Ata's testimony on cross-examination. More from the Chicago Daily Herald.

Rezko's lawyers seem to be feeling pretty good about their chances. Originally, they said the defense portion of the case would take weeks. Then days. Now, it's down to "an afternoon, or possibly a day and a half."

Even though testimony will wrap up Tuesday or Wednesday, the judge will not be going directly into closing arguments. There are jury instructions to go over and she has set closings for May 12.

Still, with the prosecution resting Monday and the defense as early as Tuesday, Rezko may become national news for a a few days.

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  • Display: Sort:
    My feminist ire (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by AnninCA on Sat May 03, 2008 at 12:37:26 PM EST
    will show here.  They convict the DC Madame on RICCO and not Rezko?


    When will they prosecute if (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Stellaaa on Sat May 03, 2008 at 12:42:53 PM EST
    on the embezzlement of the millions in affordable housing?  Probably never since the Chicago machine would have to do that and they were part of the scheme.  

    According to AP today, McCain is (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sat May 03, 2008 at 01:01:11 PM EST
    questioning Obama's bona fides on commitment to helping the poor.  Not sure if he is reading your comments!

    Man....see (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Stellaaa on Sat May 03, 2008 at 02:50:55 PM EST
    between Hillary and us we ruined him.

    Guilty or not... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by citizen53 on Sat May 03, 2008 at 01:33:07 PM EST
    Rezko is a slumlord and helped Obama buy his house and finance his campaigns.

    Another 20 year association that Obama needed to distance himself from.  We call such distancing good judgment, in hindsight.

    Just askin' (none / 0) (#2)
    by LarryInNYC on Sat May 03, 2008 at 12:41:06 PM EST
    How soon after a President is elected can he grant pardons?

    He can turn around at the podium after (none / 0) (#8)
    by FlaDemFem on Sat May 03, 2008 at 02:13:05 PM EST
    the swearing in and sign them. LOL

    that's rich (none / 0) (#13)
    by altoonababoona on Sat May 03, 2008 at 05:50:50 PM EST
    Or maybe Rezko can get his wife to donate a ton of money to him and his library, and he can pardon them before leaving office?

    Why would mccain pardon rezko? (none / 0) (#14)
    by kenosharick on Sat May 03, 2008 at 09:02:05 PM EST
    We all know Obama will never win the general. (unless he gets VERY lucky)

    Did the Feds have a good case against Rezko? (none / 0) (#3)
    by jawbone on Sat May 03, 2008 at 12:41:09 PM EST

    i'd be curious if any (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Sat May 03, 2008 at 01:59:01 PM EST
    reporters commented on the looks on the juror's faces during all this? confused, intent, amused?

    slightly OT, but i do have a question for you jeralyn. you use the term "sang for his supper" as an obvious pejorative, with respect to witnesses testifying under a plea bargain deal. since one, mr. ata, got his jail time knocked down from 8 to 1 by doing so, i'd think you'd be impressed with his (criminal defense) atty's work on his client's behalf. yet, not a word of praise from you for that?

    regardless of what you may think of mr. ata (and mr. levine), i'd think you'd have nice things to say about their atty's lawyering.

    And don't forget Blago (none / 0) (#10)
    by karen for Clinton on Sat May 03, 2008 at 02:56:18 PM EST
    The Chicago papers are filled with stories on the people wanting him OUT and also of the testimony against him leading to his very own trial.

    And his skinny friend as well?

    I read one of the Chicago papers yesterday which speculated Rezko may plea bargain and squeal.


    What is going on with Illinois Governors? (none / 0) (#11)
    by santarita on Sat May 03, 2008 at 03:15:22 PM EST
    First, Ryan gets in trouble for corruption and now Blago.  And why do the people of Illinois tolerate this?  Is it just that Fitz is such a good government corruption USA attorney?  

    lol...say 'ello to my skinny friend" (none / 0) (#12)
    by PssttCmere08 on Sat May 03, 2008 at 04:09:40 PM EST
    I really wonder if Ata or Rezko will point a finger at obama to make points?