Just in from Fox news and the Chicago Tribune; Obama’s good buddy is guilty on 16 counts.
Rezko convicted of corruption
By Bob Secter and Jeff Coen
A federal jury today convicted developer Antoin "Tony" Rezko of corruption charges for trading on his clout as a top adviser and fundraiser to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rezko's guilty verdict on 16 of 24 corruption counts could have broad repercussions for Blagojevich, who made Rezko a central player in his kitchen cabinet. It could also prove a political liability for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who once counted Rezko as a friend and fundraiser, as the likely Democratic presidential nominee heads into the general election campaign against Republican John McCain.
The 10-woman, two-man jury deliberated for parts of 13 days before convicting Rezko of scheming with Stuart Levine, a longtime Republican insider, to extort millions of dollars from firms seeking state business or regulatory approval.
The jury convicted Rezko of wire and mail fraud, money laundering and aiding and abetting bribery. He was acquitted of attempted extortion.
Levine, who pleaded guilty in 2006, became the government's star witness. He testified that in return for kickbacks, Rezko rigged decisions of two state boards on which Levine sat.
But the defense attacked Levine as a drug-addled con man who dodged a life sentence by inventing tales of illegal activity involving Rezko. His lawyers also questioned Levine's memory after decades of abusing cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors urged jurors not to disregard Levine's testimony just because they found him offensive. Government wiretaps and other witnesses backed up Levine's account of conspiring with Rezko, prosecutors contended.
Testimony at the trial produced a series of stunning allegations of misconduct that went well beyond the scope of the criminal charges against Rezko.
Former state official Ali Ata told jurors he bought his post with bribes to Rezko and campaign contributions to Blagojevich. Ata was also one of several witnesses who said Rezko talked of a plot to kill the criminal probe against him by pulling strings with the Bush White House to get U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald fired.
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I believe this is the story that is going to stick to Obama.
CHICAGO — A federal jury has found a prominent political fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty of 16 of 24 counts in his Illinois corruption trial.
Antoin "Tony" Rezko was accused of scheming to get bribes from businesses seeking state contracts.
The jury delivered its verdict Wednesday after a nine-week trial.
Rezko has known Obama since he entered politics and was involved in a 2005 real estate deal with the Democratic presidential candidate, although testimony barely touched on their relationship. Most of the focus was on shakedowns prosecutors said Rezko arranged when he was a top adviser to Blagojevich.
Neither Blagojevich nor Obama has been accused of wrongdoing.
Cross posted at sayanthingblog.com