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.
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