Thursday, May 01, 2008

More Rezko Connections

Some amusement behind the scenes at the FOBarack Tony Rezko trial the other day. First the revelation that Rezko peddled a sob story that the governor was going to suffer great public embarrassment by having a lien slapped on his house unless a campaign donor who wanted to keep his state job ponied up to pay the Blagojevich mortgage. (It wasn't enough that Rezko's company steered all that real estate business Patty-cake Patti Blagojevich's way.) Tribune:
Prosecutors said Ata will say Rezko extracted four bribes from him, including the one to avert the lien. Another involved a $50,000 payment that Rezko allegedly said was destined for Blagojevich fundraiser Chris Kelly.

Ata said the money was passed in cloak-and-dagger fashion as he and Rezko drove to Kelly's house in the southwest suburbs. "The cash is in the car when they go down there," Hamilton said. "And when they leave Mr. Kelly's house, the money isn't there any more."
Perhaps the act was accomplished by those mysterious hooligans who have been known to neatly paint campaign slogans on Chicago's streets. Rezko's defense lawyer objected:
Duffy argued that there was no proof Ata paid Rezko anything, calling the issue not just a moving target, but "an invisible target."

But Duffy failed to persuade U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to bar testimony about alleged cash payments from Ata to Rezko. However, St. Eve did order prosecutors to steer clear of having Ata repeat colorful descriptions he gave to federal agents about how the money was passed. Defense lawyers said Ata told agents the transfers took place on "narrow streets" in Chicago and involved "big plastic bags" of cash.
Then there was mention of a Stroger-Rezko connection:
St. Eve delayed a ruling on whether Ata may testify about what he perceived as an attempt to enlist him in a coverup as the federal probe into Rezko intensified in 2005. Ata has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in December 2005, and now says he did so after being encouraged to be a "team player" by people he perceived as emissaries of Rezko.

Prosecutors said one person who delivered that message was Orlando Jones, a former Rezko employee who was also the godson of then- Cook County Board President John Stroger. Jones died in September, and Stroger died in January.
Barack Obama backed the ailing elder Stroger, then the younger, for reelection as Cook County Board president last time around--rather than a reformer. Business as usual. Stroger Junior now badly runs the show, last seen not showing up to a meeting in suburban Cook with secession on the agenda.

Who knows how this will all play out, but it looks like Rezko is in legal trouble. Even Barack Obama may be able to figure this out. Rezko himself may well reveal more as jail looms. And voters may become more cynical this election year, and not just in Illinois. They have good reason.

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