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Feds Interview Chicago Tribune Owner Sam Zell in Blagojevich Case

Sam Zell, the rather unpopular newspaper baron who took over the Chicago Tribune Co. at one of the worst times in the industry’s history, now finds himself involved in the investigation into ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Zell gave Blagojevich a gift in 2008. Is that some innocent gesture or something more? Maybe Zell’s paper the Chicago Tribune will be able to find out.

Sam Zell/ucla photo

Sam Zell/ucla photo

By Todd Lighty and Robert Becker
Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell hired well-known defense lawyer Anton Valukas and was interviewed in January by federal prosecutors as a “potential witness” in the criminal investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the company acknowledged Wednesday.

Zell could not be reached for comment, and company officials did not respond to questions about details of his interview with the U.S. attorney’s office.

Valukas is a former U.S. attorney who specializes in white-collar criminal investigations and major civil cases at Jenner & Block. He declined to comment.

Donald Liebentritt, Tribune Co. executive vice president and general counsel, provided a statement that said the firm has represented the company for many years in a number of matters.

“Mr. Valukas was recommended to work on the matter because it involved a subpoena issued by the U.S. attorney’s office,” according to the statement from Liebentritt, which came in response to questions from the Chicago Tribune.
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