Rezko witness: Gov't didn't know about drug use

June 4, 2008 1:52:08 PM PDT
Defense lawyers at the corruption trial of political fundraiser Tony Rezko tried to suggest in court Friday that the prosecution's key witness is lying on the stand. They say Stuart Levine is helping prosecutors and fabricating testimony to stay out of jail. With very little tape recorded evidence and virtually no documents to link defendant Rezko to kickback schemes, federal prosecutors are relying on the words of Levine.

For the second day in a row, Rezko's attorney is chipping away at Levine's story and all the time it took to develop it:

Levine says he was not inside the Dirksen Federal Building when he made the deal to be a government witness in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. The negotiations began, he testified, at the Monadnock Building across Deaborn Street and continued at a secret government interrogation room near Clinton and Jackson in the West Loop.

In court Friday, attorney Joseph Duffy showed Levine logs revealing that federal agents and prosecutors questioned Levine 41 times between January and August of 2006, before Rezko was indicted a month later, based largely on information from Levine.

On the plea deal he eventually made, the Republican fundraiser testified, "what was said to me was that the government and i would no longer be in an adversarial relationship."

"So you knew that the more information you provided, the better it would be for you?" Duffy asked.

Levine's answer was, "I could not provide more than I had, sir."

The defense claimed in its opening statement that career criminal Levine is trying to save himself from a life prison sentence by framing Rezko. He alleges the Democratic fundraiser led schemes to extort kickbacks from companies trying to do business related to two state boards on which Levine served.

Duffy also revealed more of Levine's credit card receipts from the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood. That's where Levine has admitted binging on illegal drugs with several male friends only on weekdays. But the dates on the receipts were three consecutive Saturdays in October and November of 2002.

And minutes before Judge Amy St. Eve adjourned for the week, Levine testified that as part of his plea deal, he wore a hidden microphone to meetings with several people who were under investigation by the FBI. There was only time for one target to be mentioned. That was former Chicago alderman and mayoral candidate William "Bill" Singer. Singer has not been charged with any crime.

Levine also told the jury Friday that he did not reveal the extent of his drug abuse to federal prosecutors until September of 2007. That is a full year after Rezko was indicted. It appears the government laid the groundwork for this major case before it knew the extent of its principal witness' involvement in illegal drugs.

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