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Tag: Rezko

Blago Fundraiser Gets 10 1/2 Years for Extorting Millions

By Danny Fenster
ticklethwire.com

A top fundraiser and advisor to ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich got handed a stiff sentence Tuesday in Chicago federal court for extorting millions of dollars in exchange for regulatory approval or business.

Fundraiser  Antoin “Tony” Rezko was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison — a sentence that prompted Rezko’s daughter to burst into tears, reports the Chicago Tribune. Judge Amy St. Eve told Rezko his “selfish and corrupt actions” have threatened people’s trust in government.

The tough sentence could be the preview as to what’s to come next month when none other than Blagojevich himself is sentenced.

Rezko has been in prison since his 2008 conviction, but the sentencing was delayed because federal prosecutors thought he may have needed to be called a witness at other key trials related to the probe of the Blagojevich administration, the Tribune reported.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the sentence “a wake-up call.”

“I don’t know how many times we’ve had sentences of 10 1/2 years” in public corruption cases, Fitzgerald said, according to the Tribune.

Which raises a question. As ticklethewire.com reported previously, some see the upcoming Blagojevich sentencing as a chance for Illinois to send a very strong, very pubic message against widespread corruption in local and state government. Could this be the stern warning, the “wake up call” that was needed? Would that mean a lighter sentence for Blagojevich? Or is this only the beginning of an overdue crackdown?

Blagojevich conducted an extensive media campaign covered by the national press before his guilty conviction. While most Chicagoans know the name Tony Rezko, he does not have the national profile that Rod Blagojevich does. A stiff Blago sentencing would surely send a stronger, or at least louder, message.

Only time will tell. Balgojevich’s sentencing is set for December.

To read more click here.

Judge Threatens to Hold Blago’s Attorney in Contempt

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Closing arguments in the public corruption trial of Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich were supposed to finish up on Monday, but those plans were derailed when Blago’s attorney got into a big tiff with the judge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The judge threatened to hold Blago’s attorney Sam Adam Jr in contempt if he said certain things during closing arguments. And Adam vowed to go to jail if necessary. The closing arguments were delayed.

Just another day in the Blago trial in downtown Chicago.

The tiff started just before Adam was to deliver his closing arguments. U.S. District Judge James Zagel told Adam — outside the presence of the jury — that he could not say that the prosecution mentioned 35 people in the case, including Tony Rezko, and never called them as witnesses.

“You cannot draw an evidentiary inference from the fact a witness was not called by the other side when you had an equal right to call them,” Zagel told Adam, according to the Sun-Times.

Adam argued with the judge, who said: “You will follow this order, because if you don’t you will be in contempt of court.”

“With all due deference to the court, I have a man here who’s arguing for his life. . . . I can’t effectively represent this man. . . . I can’t follow this order,” Adam told Zagel, according to the Sun-Times. “I’m willing to go to jail on this.”

After court, Sam Adam Jr. said he would go to jail “in a heartbeat” if that’s what it takes, the Sun-Times reported.

Arguments are scheduled to resume Tuesday.

To read more click here.

UPDATE: 12:55 PM Tuesday: Defense Attorney Sam Adam Jr. began delivering his closing argument without incident, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. To read more click here.