Monday, August 02, 2010

Waiting for Blago Verdict, Alexi Rezko Bombshell

Blago's lawyer sweats the verdict, unable to eat or sleep. He thinks he did the best he could. I mean, look at what he had to work with.

And even though Rezko already had a delinquent loan from Broadway Bank, Alexi's family bank still lent him $22.75 million for another big deal. Involving convicted fraudster Nadhmi Auchi, who may have bankrolled Obama's house purchase just a few months earlier through Rezko. Alexi was running for Illinois state Treasurer at the time. Based on his financial acumen.

That lyin Alexi once again.

Will Barack Obama give Alexi Giannoulias another hug when he campaigns for him here on Wednesday. For the bleepin golden Obama Senate seat.

Inside view Blago's home? Nah, clearly too many books. Wired though.

More. From Kirk for Senate:

Giannoulias Misled Voters on Loan to Tony Rezko

“For [Mark Kirk] to say that the bank should have known that Tony Rezko’s company, or that Tony Rezko would have this certain thing 5 or 6 years later, it’s a tough argument for him to make.” – Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, March 3, 2010

Chicago Sun-Times reveals Broadway Bank loaned Tony Rezko $22.75 million in 2006, when “Rezko was already politically radioactive”

Background: The Chicago Sun-Times reported today that Broadway Bank loaned $22.75 million to a company partially owned by Tony Rezko in February of 2006, well after Rezko’s corrupt dealings and connections to former Governor Rod Blagojevich were exposed by the media. Alexi Giannoulias was Vice President and Senior Loan Officer of Broadway Bank at the time of the loan and received a $41,000 salary for 2006.

Previous Giannoulias Statement: Alexi Giannoulias has excused Broadway Bank’s loans to Tony Rezko by claiming that the loans were made before Tony Rezko’s crimes were known. On March 3, 2010, Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune: “For [Mark Kirk] to say that the bank should have known that Tony Rezko’s company, or that Tony Rezko would have this certain thing 5 or 6 years later, it’s a tough argument for him to make.”

Giannoulias Misled Voters on Rezko: Giannoulias made his March 3, 2010 statement despite Broadway Bank’s 2006 loan to Rezko – well after Rezko’s corruption was known. On February 14, 2006, when the loan papers were signed, Tony Rezko’s name had appeared in news accounts nearly 200 times in the previous year, according to Lexis Nexis. By that point, anyone in Chicago with a newspaper subscription knew about Tony Rezko’s corruption.

Giannoulias and Broadway Bank in 2006: Despite Giannoulias’ campaign statement today that “Alexi left daily operation of the bank in September of 2005,” the Chicago Tribune reported that Alexi Giannoulias received a $41,000 salary from Broadway Bank in 2006. On December 20, 2005, the State Journal-Registercurrently serves as vice president and senior loan officer at the four-branch Broadway Bank in Chicago.”

Broadway’s Prior Loans to Rezko: According to an October 13, 2006 report by Chicago Sun-Times, Broadway Bank loaned Tony Rezko $1 million in September 2002. The Chicago Tribune reported that Broadway Bank also loaned $10.9 million to a Rezko-owned company in January 2002. Today’s Sun-Times report brings Broadway Bank’s total loans to Tony Rezko to roughly $34.7 million between 2002 and 2006.

Other Giannoulias-Rezko Ties: Tony Rezko used his influence with Rod Blagojevich to help Alexi Giannoulias’ brother, Demetris. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rezko was listed on a Blagojevich “clout list” as Demetris Giannoulias’ sponsor for an appointment to the Illinois Finance Authority.

Broadway Bank Should Have Known about Auchi: According to the Sun-Times, Rezko’s business partner in the real estate venture was Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. In 2008, the Sun-Times reported Auchi was convicted in France in 2003 on charges of fraud and was barred from entering the United States.

reported that “Giannoulias noted that he

Who is Tony Rezko?

Rezko convicted; Political insider guilty of money laundering, fraud, aiding bribery

By Bob Secter and Jeff Coen
Chicago Tribune
June 5, 2008

Antoin "Tony" Rezko, whose friendship and fundraising prowess helped shape the political careers of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, was convicted Wednesday of using his political clout to orchestrate a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

A federal jury found Rezko guilty on 16 of 24 counts in a trial that exposed an ingrained culture of corruption in Illinois government that has continued to flourish under Blagojevich and comes during a federal probe of his administration.

The verdict in the state's biggest corruption trial since the 2006 conviction of former Gov. George Ryan challenged Blagojevich's claims of being a reformer. It also aggravated a nagging campaign headache for Obama just a day after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.

Rezko shifted nervously in his seat moments before the verdict was announced, then blinked and glanced sideways toward the jury box as U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve began to read the jury's declaration that it had found him guilty.

Wearing a light olive suit and a red tie, Rezko had arrived in court flanked by his two sons. Noticeably absent was his wife, Rita, who had been present during most of the 10-week trial.

The 10-woman, two-man jury deliberated for parts of 13 days before convicting Rezko of abusing his clout with Blagojevich while scheming with Stuart Levine, a longtime Republican insider, to extort millions of dollars from firms seeking state business or regulatory approval. He was convicted of mail and wire fraud, aiding and abetting bribery and of money laundering. He was acquitted of attempted extortion.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, whose office is leading a probe into Blagojevich's administration and the governor's personal finances, said he hoped the verdict would be a wake-up call for Illinois politicians.

"I hope people step back and say, 'When you do all that stuff, it's going to come back and bite you in a serious way,'" Fitzgerald said. "If the morals don't get to them, then I hope the fear of going to jail does."

Blagojevich, who swept to victory in 2002 with a pledge to clean up Illinois government after the Ryan years, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. But his name was invoked repeatedly during the trial as several witnesses said they heard him give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the notion of steering state business to campaign donors.

In a brief appearance after the verdict, the governor read a statement expressing his "respect" for the verdict and his sadness for Rezko and his family. But Blagojevich said he was too busy trying to balance the state's budget to answer any questions.

The verdict also held implications for Obama, even though he had no connection to the charges.

Obama struggled during the Democratic presidential primaries to explain his long relationship with Rezko, including a real estate deal involving Obama's South Side house that the two entered into after Obama's 2004 election to the Senate. The jury's decision all but ensures that the Rezko issue will remain politically toxic for Obama heading into the general election battle with Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Just 20 minutes after the verdict was announced, the Republican National Committee churned out an e-mail news release referring to Rezko as Obama's "money man" and declaring that "Obama has maintained a friendship with a now convicted felon."

Like Blagojevich, Obama said he was "saddened" by the verdict. "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew," Obama said.

Although Rezko had been free on a $8.5 million bail, he voluntarily surrendered to authorities after the verdict and said he wanted to begin serving his sentence immediately. St. Eve deferred a ruling on the length of his sentence until Sept. 3.

The verdict was hardly the end to Rezko's legal peril. He is scheduled to go on trial later this year in a separate federal fraud case involving his attempts to gain financing for an ailing chain of pizza restaurants he once owned. In addition, a judge in Las Vegas issued an arrest warrant last month for Rezko, accused of skipping out on $450,000 in gambling debts he ran up in 2006 even as he knew he was under federal scrutiny in Chicago.

The trial provided ample fodder for cynics who see Illinois' political insiders as a cozy club motivated more by greed than public service or ideology. Witnesses described a who's who of prominent Republicans and Democrats exploiting questionable state deals for financial gain.

Still, jurors said at a news conference after the verdict that they were not distracted by the parade of political heavy hitters, such as Blagojevich, whose names repeatedly surfaced during testimony.

"As a jury, we just tried to focus on the Rezko trial because that's what we were there for," said juror Mona Lisa Mauricette.

Lacking any smoking gun evidence, jurors said they put together the case like a puzzle and gave great weight to not just witness testimony, but also recordings of wiretapped phone conversations and e-mails that prosecutors presented.

Juror Andrea Coleman said the panel basically ignored the long testimony of prosecution star witness Levine, whose drug use and credibility became the centerpiece of withering defense cross-examination.

Prosecutors accused Rezko of misusing his influence with Blagojevich to corrupt two state boards, one that handled a $40 billion pension fund for most Illinois teachers and the other that vetted hospital projects.

The governor leaned heavily on Rezko and fellow fundraiser Christopher Kelly for advice and granted them considerable sway over administration policy and appointments. Kelly, a roofing contractor awaiting trial on unrelated federal tax fraud charges, was named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-schemer in the case against Rezko.

The prosecution case against Rezko was built around Levine, who testified as part of a plea deal he cut in 2006 for a lighter sentence. The federal probe of Rezkowas an outgrowth of an investigation into Levine, and the critical wiretap evidence played at Rezko's trial was recorded from conversations from Levine's home phone.

Testimony 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 told them of a plot to kill the criminal probe against him by pulling strings with the Bush administration to get Fitzgerald fired.

Investigators have also been conducting probes into state hiring, contracting and board appointments under Blagojevich.

And this. Blago prosecutor U.S. Atty Patrick Fitzgerald's not the only person who can hold a press conference:

Pat Brady, Joe Birkett to Discuss Giannoulias Loan to Rezko and Auchi

Who: Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady

DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett

When: Today, August 2, 2010

11:30 a.m.

Where: Clark & Randolph Streets

outside the James R. Thompson Center

Chicago, IL

What: Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady and DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett will discuss this morning’s story in the Chicago Sun-Times regarding Broadway Bank’s loan to Tony Rezko and Nadhmi Auchi in 2006 when Alexi Giannoulias was Senior Loan Officer and Vice President of the bank.

And remember, Tony Rezko hasn't been sentenced yet. Obama Blago blog on the NY Times piece on the Blago trial: Three questions for Tony Rezko Will the national press finally pay some substantive attention?

More. The Hill: Illinois Dem faces more questions about Rezko loans

Me. An early post: Auchi was in Wilmette at Rezko's. Wilmette, my suburban Chicago town.

More. From Kirk for Senate:
Broadway Bank Total Loans to Criminals Tops $100 million

Nadhmi Auchi

Short Bio: Nadhmi Auchi is a British-Iraqi billionaire who was convicted in France in 2003 on counts of fraud and bribery. Broadway Bank loaned a company jointly owned by Auchi and Tony Rezko $22,750,000 in February of 2006, while Alexi Giannoulias was Vice President and Senior Loan Officer of Broadway Bank. Read more here.

Broadway Bank Loans to Auchi

Recipient Amount Date
Riverside District Development $22,750,000 2/14/2006

Tony Rezko

Short Bio: Tony Rezko, a long-time political insider and ally of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, was convicted in 2008 of multiple felonies, including money laundering and wire fraud. Broadway Bank loaned Tony Rezko and his companies more than $34 million, most of it in 2006, after his corrupt dealings and connections to Rod Blagojevich were well-known. Read more here.

Broadway Bank Loans

Recipient Amount Date
Chicago-Hudson LLC $10,940,000.00[1] 1/25/2002
Tony Rezko $1,000,000.00[2] Sep-02
Riverside District Development LLC $22,750,000 2/14/2006

[1] Rezko partnership files bankruptcy over project, Chicago Tribune, May 23, 2006
[2] More trouble for Rezko, Sun Times, October 13, 2006

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