Tony Rezko may sing in Blago's trial

Richard Henry Lee
There is a strong possibility that former Obama fundraiser and convicted felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko will testify for the prosecution against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The indictment of Blagojevich and five others for corruption in Illinois names Rezko in almost all of the charges against the six, but Rezko himself was not indicted. He could have been indicted in the criminal enterprise portion of the indictment since he was not previously charged with this crime. Neither was Stuart Levine who pled guilty in an earlier corruption case and became a cooperating prosecution witness against Rezko.

Rezko was
moved last December from solitary confinement at the Chicago Metropolitan Center to somewhere else where the conditions of confinement are presumably somewhat better. The speculation is that he was cooperating since his sentencing was also postponed by Federal Judge Amy St. Eve. A judge will often delay sentencing when the convicted person is cooperating. Rezko is also facing charges in Las Vegas, Nevada for an unrelated fraud case related to unpaid gambling debts.

Rezko is important since he was an early supporter of Obama when he first ran for public office. The Obama presidential campaign has
identified $250,000 in contributions to various Obama political campaigns from Rezko or his associates although some of that has been donated to charity according to the campaign. Rezko also helped Obama purchase his residence in the upscale Kenwood district of Chicago. If Rezko testifies for the prosecution, then the defense attorneys will be able to cross examine him about a variety of issues related to the charges in the indictment. The big question is whether Rezko's testimony will touch Obama in any way.

Some of the charges in the indictment also relate to an attempt by Blagojevich to "sell" Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder after Obama was elected. Some of Obama's political advisors at the time might be forced to testify. These include Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. Both had spoken to Blagojevich intermediaries concerning the possible appointment of Jarrett to the Senate seat but claimed no wrong doing.

While Obama appears to be untouched by this latest indictment, the upcoming trial will be a reminder about political corruption in Illinois where Obama has his political roots.

Charles Lipson of the University of Chicago Law School writes of another possible insider spilling his guts in the Chicago Tribune:

When Blagojevich considers the overwhelming evidence against him, he must shudder. The secret recordings obtained by the feds are hard to spin-it's his voice, after all-and he will be facing the most experienced, dogged prosecutor in the country. A conviction, he knows, means years behind bars and roommates with tattooed arms. Unless Blagojevich can pollute the jury pool (which he is apparently earnestly attempting with his public appearances and the appointment of Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat), his only chance to reduce prison time is to tell everything he knows. That must be a chilling prospect for his former friends in Springfield and Chicago.

Blagojevich's indicted chief of staff, John Harris, apparently has come to terms with that pressure. He is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office.


There is a strong possibility that former Obama fundraiser and convicted felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko will testify for the prosecution against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The indictment of Blagojevich and five others for corruption in Illinois names Rezko in almost all of the charges against the six, but Rezko himself was not indicted. He could have been indicted in the criminal enterprise portion of the indictment since he was not previously charged with this crime. Neither was Stuart Levine who pled guilty in an earlier corruption case and became a cooperating prosecution witness against Rezko.

Rezko was
moved last December from solitary confinement at the Chicago Metropolitan Center to somewhere else where the conditions of confinement are presumably somewhat better. The speculation is that he was cooperating since his sentencing was also postponed by Federal Judge Amy St. Eve. A judge will often delay sentencing when the convicted person is cooperating. Rezko is also facing charges in Las Vegas, Nevada for an unrelated fraud case related to unpaid gambling debts.

Rezko is important since he was an early supporter of Obama when he first ran for public office. The Obama presidential campaign has
identified $250,000 in contributions to various Obama political campaigns from Rezko or his associates although some of that has been donated to charity according to the campaign. Rezko also helped Obama purchase his residence in the upscale Kenwood district of Chicago. If Rezko testifies for the prosecution, then the defense attorneys will be able to cross examine him about a variety of issues related to the charges in the indictment. The big question is whether Rezko's testimony will touch Obama in any way.

Some of the charges in the indictment also relate to an attempt by Blagojevich to "sell" Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder after Obama was elected. Some of Obama's political advisors at the time might be forced to testify. These include Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. Both had spoken to Blagojevich intermediaries concerning the possible appointment of Jarrett to the Senate seat but claimed no wrong doing.

While Obama appears to be untouched by this latest indictment, the upcoming trial will be a reminder about political corruption in Illinois where Obama has his political roots.

Charles Lipson of the University of Chicago Law School writes of another possible insider spilling his guts in the Chicago Tribune:

When Blagojevich considers the overwhelming evidence against him, he must shudder. The secret recordings obtained by the feds are hard to spin-it's his voice, after all-and he will be facing the most experienced, dogged prosecutor in the country. A conviction, he knows, means years behind bars and roommates with tattooed arms. Unless Blagojevich can pollute the jury pool (which he is apparently earnestly attempting with his public appearances and the appointment of Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat), his only chance to reduce prison time is to tell everything he knows. That must be a chilling prospect for his former friends in Springfield and Chicago.

Blagojevich's indicted chief of staff, John Harris, apparently has come to terms with that pressure. He is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office.