Convicted fraud and money launderer Antoin “Tony” Rezko says federal agents who prosecuted him on corruption charges earlier this month pressured him “to tell the wrong things” he knows about soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama and Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rezko, a top Democratic fundraiser and close adviser to Blagojevich, claims he never was party to any wrongdoing that involved Blagojevich, Obama, and other Illinois politicians, telling prosecutors he would “never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes.”
Rezko was found guilty on 16 counts of fraud, money laundering, and aiding and abetting bribery in a plot to squeeze illegal payoffs out of firms hoping to do business with the state.
In a passionate plea to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve prior to his conviction, Rezko writes, “I will take what comes my way, but I will never hurt innocent people.”
Rezko claims federal prosecutors have been improperly pressuring him to implicate Obama for corruption, mostly because Rezko was a prominent fundraiser for the Senator from Illinois’ campaigns for the state Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate. Rezko is not, however a contributor to Obama’s presidential campaign.
While Obama is not accused of any wrongdoing, he has subsequently donated all the money raised by Rezko to charity. Obama also entered into a questionable land deal with Rezko in 2005 when it was widely known that Rezko, a former real estate developer, was under federal scrutiny.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, will not comment on Rezko's allegations, but a statement released by an Obama spokesman stresses that Obama hasn’t been accused of “any improper action or conduct involving Tony Rezko.”
The statement reiterates that Obama hasn’t been contacted for an interview or for any information about Rezko. “Nothing in the letter [Rezko wrote to his trial judge] indicates anything to the contrary.”
Blagojevich has not been charged with any wrongdoing, either, and has repeatedly denied taking part in any of the shadowy political dealings described during Rezko’s corruption trial.
The Illinois Governor has repeatedly found himself the subject of scrutiny by federal authorities who have several active investigations underway involving Blagojevich in a complicated pay-to-play scheme with state government boards and commissions.
According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, Rezko is being pressured to cooperate with the ongoing Blagojevich investigations of his campaign and administration as a trade-off for a reduced sentence in the upcoming penalty phase of his trial.
It remains to be seen as to whether Rezko will cooperate with federal authorities in the corruption probes of Blagojevich in an effort to minimize his sentence.
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