Antonin “Tony” Rezko, a long-time Political fundraiser for Illinois Democrats, has been sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison for extorting millions from companies seeking state business or hoping to have favorable regulations written for them by government. The money was sought as donations to politicians such as disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich — Rezko was his top fundraiser — and President Barack Obama.
Rezko, a Chicago real estate developer, has been involved in shady deals with Democrats for a long time but has until now escaped any consequences for his criminal actions. His conviction came in 2008 but Rezko’s sentencing had been delayed because he was ostensibly assisting prosecutors to go after Blagojevich. Apparently Rezko didn’t help a whole lot, though, as he was never called to the stand and prosecutors demanded that Rezko get 15 years in federal prison — a hefty demand if he was, indeed, being helpful.
Rezko was a fundraiser for Obama when he was in the Illinois State Senate. But there is more to the Obama/Rezko connection. It should be recalled that Obama bought his Hyde Park house for $300,000 under market value with Tony Rezko making up the difference for him. To date, no one has ever explained how this was legal.
Taking this sentence alone, Rezko could be out in 6 or 6-1/2 years with time served and good behavior. However, Rezko is still facing other charges and if prosecutors push those onward to trial he could end up with an even longer sentence. Time will tell.
On a side note, John Ruberry notes that it is curious that the Chicago Tribune somehow forgot to mention that Rezko was also a fundraiser for Obama.