Ex-Obama Fundraiser Rezko Sentenced to 10 1/2 Years

Tuesday, 22 Nov 2011 01:05 PM

CHICAGO — Antoin “Tony” Rezko, the former campaign fundraiser for President Barack Obama and ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison for his role in a kickback scheme.

Rezko, 56, an investor in restaurant chains and a developer of low-income real estate, was found guilty by a jury of plotting with a Chicago-area businessman serving on two state boards to take millions of dollars from firms doing business with Illinois.

Rezko was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago.

His four-month trial began in March 2008 at the height of the presidential primary season that saw Obama, who was then a U.S. senator from Illinois, win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president over then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

The Syrian-born Rezko had raised money for Obama’s U.S. and Illinois state senate campaigns and collected more than $1.4 million for Blagojevich, who was indicted on corruption charges six months later.

While Obama was mentioned several times during Rezko’s trial, he was never accused of any wrongdoing. Money Rezko raised for Obama’s presidential campaign was donated to charity, according to Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman.

A federal jury in June 2008 convicted Rezko of six counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and two counts of abetting bribery.

The case is U.S. v. Levine, 05cr691, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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