What does Tony Rezko know and when will he say it?
In Part II of Let’s Help Barack Obama’s Slumlord Friend REZKO we’ll discuss why we suspect Prosecutor Fitzgerald kept Obama out of the Rezko trial. We’ll discuss more questions regarding Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s attorneys and their ineffective and perplexing “defense” of Rezko. Also “When will Rezko sing?” – our timeline estimates.
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Poor Tony. Antoin “Tony” Rezko is now a convicted felon. The grim future Rezko faces is a factor when considering if and when Rezko will “flip” and “give up the goods” on Obama.
Let’s inventory Rezko’s future.
In his first trial, Obama’s slumlord friend Rezko was presumed innocent. No longer. Obama’s friend Rezko will face further trials with the added burden of being a convicted felon. And there will be more legal trials and tribulations for Obama’s slumlord friend:
With the ink barely dry on the verdict form in one trial, a federal judge on Monday set a trial date for Tony Rezko’s next case. The trial for the onetime influential political fund-raiser is set to start Feb. 2, 2009. It involves a $10 million loan fraud scheme. Rezko allegedly asked a former state official, Ali Ata, to doctor up a letter to help secure loans for his pizza franchises, as part of the case. On Wednesday, a federal jury convicted Rezko of far-reaching fraud tied to state deals. He surrendered to jail immediately.
In limbo now is a third case against Rezko. That one, filed just two weeks ago in a Las Vegas-area county court, accuses Rezko of skipping out on $450,000 in gambling debts racked up at local casinos.
Poor Tony. Tony faces a maximum jail term of 300 years as a result of his first trial. More convictions would add yet more years and years to Tony’s grim future paying back society for his crimes.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s second trial will in all liklihood not go well. Ali Ata will be an imporant prosecution witness in the second trial as he was in the first Rezko trial. How well did Ali Ata testify in the first trial?
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports prosecution witness and real estate developer Ali Ata spent another day on the witness stand. The longtime friend of Rezko claimed Rezko got him a job running the State Finance Authority in return for big money campaign contributions to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
“After Stuart Levine, Tony Rezko had a lot to be thankful for, and his lawyers did a great job,” said CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller. “Then comes Ali Ata, the last major witness and I think the roller coaster is going the other way right now. He was a tremendous witness for the government.” [snip]
“If Joe Duffy and Tony Rezko knew that Ali Ata was going to be a witness in the case to bolster the testimony of Stuart Levine, that would have been a major consideration before this trial even started,” Miller said.
After Ali Ata testifies once again against Rezko, Tony will probably be convicted and face additional years to an already life sentence in prison.
Tony has money problems which will go to court too. A lot of questions about Rezko’s finances will be asked and answered. We might even find out about the Obama house deal.
Tony Rezko has gone to jail, but his money troubles won’t go away.
A former Rezko business associate went to court Thursday to try to get the former top political fund-raiser and adviser to Gov. Blagojevich declared bankrupt and force an investigation into his finances.
Lawyers for Semir Sirazi said Rezko owes him $18 million from business deals in which Sirazi put up assets to secure Rezko loans. In 2006, Rezko promised to pay Sirazi if he sold his stake in various properties, according to Sirazi’s lawyer, Gregory Scandaglia.
Rezko then sold his interest in 62 acres in the South Loop to a company owned by London billionaire Nahdmi Auchi. But Sirazi didn’t get any of the $3.8 million proceeds, Scandaglia said. Rezko later told U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve that much of the money went toward his legal fees, and some to his wife, Rita Rezko, and other family members. [snip]
To recoup what Sirazi is owed, Scandaglia said he will seek the appointment of a bankruptcy trustee to sell off Rezko’s remaining assets. The trustee also would have the power to investigate Rezko’s past financial transactions. “We think that there are distributions that were made that the trustee will have the ability to undo,” Scandaglia said.
Antoin “Tony” Rezko’s defense attorneys staked their case Monday on the prospect that jurors have found more credibility problems than compelling evidence during weeks of testimony from prosecution witnesses.
That’s the most plausible conclusion to be drawn from lead defense attorney Joseph Duffy’s surprise announcement Monday that he will neither call defense witnesses nor put his client on the stand. No defense presentation is needed, he told reporters outside the courtroom, because the government has failed to make its case against Rezko, a longtime associate of and top fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Odd. It is not unusual for a defense team to bluster by not presenting a defense, preferring instead to denigrate the prosecution case. But Ali Ata by most accounts was a very good last witness for the prosecution. Yet no witness was called by the Rezko legal defense team. Hey, why not call Obama as a character witness?
Slumlord Rezko is a 20 year friend of Barack Obama. By many accounts Barack Obama is popular in Chicago. Would it not have been powerful testimony to subpoena Barack Obama and have him testify about his good “honest” friend Rezko? Obama and Rezko have always maintained that their relationship is on the up and up. Why not call Obama as a character witness? Surely Obama could answer any pesky questions the prosecution would have brought up. Why not call Obama if there is nothing to hide?
In January, the Sun-Times reported that a portion of the Tony Rezko case led to Barack Obama’s campaign fund. Obama isn’t accused of doing anything wrong. But Rezko allegedly used straw donors to kick into Obama’s campaign fund during his run for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
While none of that came out at trial, today, for the first time, a filing recently unsealed shows the government’s initial intent to call witnesses about that aspect of the case. The judge in the case, Amy St. Eve, ruled that the prosecution could bring up Obama’s name. But they never did. And references to Obama were not only kept out of the trial during his run for the primary — it was kept under seal. Until today.
The filing indicates that the prosecution wanted witnesses to talk about Rezko’s prowess as an Obama fund-raiser and his influence in getting two others — Joseph Aramanda and Semir Sirazi — to donate Rezko money to Obama’s campaigns in their names. The money kicked into Obama’s campaigns came from an illicit kickback scheme. Obama has since donated that money to charity.
Additionally the newly unsealed documents indicate that prosecutors considered offering witnesses to explore why Rezko used others to contribute to Obama One of those “straw” donors was Joseph Aramanda whose son, at the request of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, was gifted with an internship in Obama’s Senate office.
Putting aside the possibility that Rezko’s attorneys were more interested in helping Obama and other powerful Illinois officials (who had the wealth and power to help said attorneys in the future), than their waning in power, increasingly penurious client – let’s make some calculations as to who did what and why.
The Prosecutors – why did they not call Obama as a witness or bring up shady Obama/Rezko deals and connections in the first Rezko trial? Patrick Fitzgerald is known to convict lower-level conspirators in order to work his way up the chain of corruption. For prosecutors a solid conviction is the priority. Once the Rezko prosecutors convicted Rezko they could move up the ladder in their quest to rid Illinois of corruption.
The prosecutors might have made the calculation that Obama was indeed popular in Chicago and that the jury might not be partial to convicting Rezko if it meant also hurting Obama. The prosecution calculus was a bird in the hand….
For prosecutors the conviction of Rezko in a court of law and a potential Rezko “flip” would remedy the compromise of not targeting Obama in the first Rezko trial. In other words, get Rezko first, Obama and Blagojevich later.
Rezko and his attorneys, what were their calculations?. Again, assuming that Rezko and his legal team had Rezko’s best interests in mind why didn’t Rezko’s attorneys call Obama as a witness. Obama was a supposedly popular Chicago politician who could have influenced the jury to not convict slumlord Rezko. However, Rezko might have counted on winning the case and regaining his perch in Illinois power. Calling Obama as a witness would have meant hurting Obama. Calling Obama as a witness would have been tantamount to a declaration of war against powerful political officials and therefore Rezko could never, even if found not-guilty, regain his Illinois power perch.
Now that Rezko has been convicted and faces further prosecutions likely to further convict him, Rezko has major decisions to make. Rezko would like to be released from prison after 5 or 10 years as well as retain some measure of wealth. Considering that Rezko faces enormous financial penalties and the likelihood of decades in prison after all his trials are finished – Rezko needs one hellava big “get out of jail free” card.
In order to get the major reductions in financial penalties and prison time, over 50 years old Rezko has to make one huge proffer to prosecutors. That proffer has to be at least a Governor and a Senator as well as more than just a few members of corrupt Illinois government boards. As the Sun-Times has written The million dollar question following Tony Rezko’s conviction is whether he will crumble under the pressure of being behind jail bars and agree to talk to the feds.
Rezko has 3 dates to keep in mind: August 25 – the beginning of the Democratic? National Convention; September 3 – sentencing day for conviction in the first Rezko trial; February 2, 2009 – the beginning of the next Rezko trial.
For Rezko it is important to “flip” on Obama before the Democratic? Convention begins in late August. Rezko does not want to add the burden of testifying against an actual Democratic? Party presidential nominee (not just a pompous presumtive nominee) and all the powerful national forces which will be mustered in defense of the nominee.
If Rezko is in complete denial of the grim facts and future he faces before the August Democratic? Convention, that denial will crumple on September 3 – Judgement Day. The prospect of a very long prison sentence as he prepares for a February 2 additional trial date will shatter all Rezko illusions about life without family, luxury home, and freedom.
Prosecutor Fitzgerald will let Rezko consider his future in prison as Rezko sits hour by hour, day by day in jail. When Rezko stops fooling himself; when Rezko begins to consider whether he wants the same legal team (if he can afford them) for the next series of trials that so ineffectively represented him at the first trial; when Rezko realizes that you have to give a lot to get a lot; when Rezko decides that his so-called friends are not worth donating his life for; when Rezko realizes his family will have to move on without him – Rezko will break and decide to tell all.
Rezko will soon realize that protecting Obama is not worth a life in prison.