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Tony Rezko Sentenced to 10 1/2 Years

Update: Tony Rezko was sentenced today to 10 1/2 years in prison. Since he's served 45 months, with good time of 54 days a year after the first year, he should be out in about 5 years.

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Antoin (Tony) Rezko finally faces sentencing today in Chicago. Prosecutors are asking for 11 to 15 years. Rezko is asking for time served (53 months.)

Last week I read through the initial 100 pages of sentencing pleadings filed, and summarized the arguments.

On Friday, Rezko filed another response, alleging among other things:[More...]

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Gov't . Seeks 11 to 15 Year Sentence for Tony Rezko

Now that the last of the Chicago corruption cases related to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has concluded (with the conviction of William Cellini last week), it's finally time for Antoin (Tony) Rezko and Rod Blagojevich to learn their fate.

Today the Judge scheduled sentencing for Rod Blagojevich for December 6. The Government has not yet filed its sentencing statement. Tony Rezkco's sentencing is November 22 and the Court recently unsealed Rezko's sentencing position and ordered the Government's to be filed publicly. The Government filed its statement last Thursday, seeking 11 to 15 years for Rezko, which includes a reduction for cooperation and his harsh conditions of confinement. Rezko is seeking time served (44 months.)

I've just read through the 100 pages of pleadings. This post is long, but it contains both sides' arguments and is a lot shorter than the 100 pages filed by the parties. If you're so inclined, read through, and tell us what sentence you think Rezko should or will receive. [More..]

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Rezko Sentencing Postponed Indefinitely

Tony Rezko's sentencing was postponed indefinitely today. Looks like he's cooperating with the feds again.

A few weeks ago, Rezko, tired of being held in solitary at the detention facility, asked the judge for immediate sentencing. The judge complied and set sentencing for Jan. 6. Then, Gov. Rod Blagojevich got charged and Rezko changed his mind and asked the judge to pull the sentencing date. [More...]

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Government Undecided on Whether Rezko Will Be a Trial Witness

The Judge overseeing the Tony Rezko case has granted his request for a quick sentencing date. He'll be sentenced January 6. As I wrote the other day, this says to me Rezko didn't get what he was hoping for from Fitzgerald for his cooperation. Fitz went out of his way in the Blagojevich complaint to mention numerous times that Rezko's information differed in key respects from that of other witnesses. That makes him less valuable as a witness.

The Chicago Tribune reports today that it's unclear whether the Government will call Rezko as a witness against Blagojevich. [More..]

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Rezko's Bid for New Trial Denied

Tony Rezko lost his motion for a new trial Wednesday. His sentencing has been continued because he is singing for his supper and giving up information others (No, not Obama, don't even bother trying to go there in comments, Obama is not the subject or relevant to this post.)

Rezko's motion for new trial is here (pdf). The Judge's 34 page ruling is here (pdf).

Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, aka "Fast Eddie", pleaded guilty last week and Springfield Republican political fundraiser William Cellini was indicted. [More...]

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Rezko Defends Obama in Letter to Judge

The judge in the Tony Rezko trial has released a two page letter Rezko wrote her while seeking to have his bail reinstated in April. In it, he defends Sen. Barack Obama, saying the Government was overzealous in its pursuit of "a crime that never happened" and sought information from him about Obama but he had none to give. The actual letter is here.

Two months before he was convicted of federal corruption charges, political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko told his trial judge that "overzealous" prosecutors were pressuring him to tell them about any wrongdoing involving Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama or Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But in a two-page typed letter, Rezko said he was never involved in any wrongdoing with either of the Democrats and wouldn't make up stories about them in an attempt to benefit himself.

[More...]

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Rezko Guilty Verdict: The Relevance

Bump and Update: My long thoughts on the relevance of Rezko's conviction are below:

Earlier: Guilty on 16 of 24 counts.

Here's the blank verdict form (pdf)listing the counts.

The Rezko verdict will be announced in five minutes.

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Rezko Verdict Watch

Bump and Update: Today should be the day for a verdict in the Tony Rezko trial. There seems to be some consensus among trial watchers that count 16, the attempted extortion count, is the one the jury did not agree on. We'll see if a good night's sleep and a dynamite charge from the judge made a difference. Or, if they decided last night and the judge just held the verdict until this morning.

Bump and Update: The jury went home without announcing a verdict and will return in the morning. It may be they reached one but due to the late hour, the judge is holding it until the morning. That's not uncommon in high profile cases.

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The jury deliberating the fate of Tony Rezko sent the judge a note today saying it cannot agree on 1 of the 24 counts against him. I guess that means they've decided on the other 23 counts. The judge told them to keep deliberating. [More...]

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Arrest Warrant Issued for Rezko Over Casino Gambling Debts

Whatever the jury decides in the Chicago trial of Tony Rezko, his problems aren't over. A Nevada judge has issued a felony arrest warrant for him as a result of his alleged failure to pay gambling debts.

Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who is standing trial on federal corruption charges in Chicago, is wanted in Las Vegas for failing to pay $472,275 in gambling debts to Caesars Palace and Bally’s and related processing fees to the Clark County district attorney’s office.

The total unpaid Strip bill comes to more than $800,000, however, because the Bellagio obtained a judgment of default against Rezko a year ago for not repaying $331,000 in gambling markers.

More...

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Supreme Court Refuses Former Gov. Ryan Appeal, Rezko Jury Still Out

The Supreme Court today refused to consider the appeal of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence on corruption charges.

In other Chicago corruption trial news, the Tony Rezko jury is still deliberationg. They've been meeting part-time over the past 14 days, putting in only 6 days of deliberations. But they must know they're slacking off. Today's reason for cutting out early after four days off was that a juror had a job interview to go to. In a note, the jury wrote:

the jury told the judge in the second part of its note that it will be working until 5:50 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The longer hours were "to help conclude our decision," the jury note said.

Friday is a no-deliberate day as one has child care problems that day. [More...]

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Defense Begins Closing in Rezko Trial

Bump and Update: Rezko's lawyer reminded the jury in closing arguments that Rezko was a fundraiser for Barack Obama.
Before the trial ended for the day, Duffy sought to draw a difference between politics, Rezko's fundraising activities and the allegations in the case.

"Politics is different from criminal activity," said Duffy, reminding the jury that Rezko had been involved in fundraising for President Bush and Barack Obama as well.

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Closing Arguments Underway in Rezko Trial

The Government is in the midst of what it said will be a 3 to 4 hour closing argument in the corruption trial of Tony Rezko. The Chicago Tribune is live-blogging. The Chicago Sun Times lists the ten key moments in the trial. [More...]

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Rezko: Defense Rests, No Witnesses Called

The testimony in the trial on Tony Rezko has ended. The defense did not call any witnesses. The prosecution's case lasted 9 weeks. Closing arguments are next week.

"We do not believe the government has met [its] burden proving the charges against Mr. Rezko, plain and simple," Rezko's attorney, Joseph Duffy, said in explaining his tactical decision not to mount a defense case.

Probably a smart move. It's also a typical one, so it shouldn't be viewed as them not having a defense. It's a statement there was no need to put on a defense since the prosecution didn't prove its case.

The Judge has taken under advisement several motions for judgment of acquittal. The charges are multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, attempted extortion, aiding and abetting bribery and money laundering.

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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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