Obama pal Tony Rezko sentenced for 10.5 years
byDavid Freddoso Online Opinion Editor
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a June 4, 2008 file photo, Antoin "Tony" Rezko returns to the Federal
Courthouse where a jury found him guilty on 16 counts of a 24-count
indictment in his corruption trail in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex
Arbogast/file)Former Chicago real estate developer and Democratic fundraiser Tony Rezko was sentenced today to 10 and a half years in prison, after a federal jury convicted him of federal corruption and money laundering.
Rezko was a major fundraiser for Illinois politicians, especially
Governor Rod Blagojevich and Sen. Barack Obama. He struggled with over
$50 million in personal debt
including an over $400,000 debt to casinos in Las Vegas, which may have
prompted some of his more brazen schemes to profit by steering pension
funds to firms willing to pay him.
Rezko is best known for a curious real estate deal in which he and
then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama purchased adjoining pieces of land from
the same seller, with Obama's containing his dream home. Although both
men paid full price, the seller had insisted on selling the parcels
together, lending a clear impression that Rezko's involvement helped
Obama to get the house he wanted.
When the Chicago Tribune uncovered the deal, Obama insisted that it was a perfectly legal transaction but admitted that it was a [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20mEnTK_jYc]"boneheaded mistake" [/url]during his presidential campaign.
Rezko made a fortune from low-income housing subsidies in the Chicago
area. During the 2008 presidential race, the Chicago Sun-Times reported
that then-state Sen. Obama had written letters to Chicago and Illinois
officials to help Rezko get government funding for at least one project.
In the state Senate, Obama also made such housing subsidies and housing
tax provisions a centerpiece of his legislative activities.
Obama's 17-year relationship with Rezko is particularly noteworthy
because the Syrian-American developer has been accused and convicted of
corrupting political figures in the Chicago area. Prosecutors in Rod
Blagojevich's corruption trial charged that Rezko had hired the
governor's wife to a no-work, no-show job, and that he regularly passed
envelopes of cash to the governor's chief of staff.
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