Judge grants delay in Rezko sentencing

October 8, 2008 1:31:40 PM PDT
A federal judge canceled convicted influence peddler Antoin "Tony" Rezko's sentencing date Wednesday and one of his lawyers said he is working with federal prosecutors in hopes of getting a break for his client. U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve on Wednesday granted prosecutors' request to strike Rezko's scheduled October 28th sentencing date.

St. Eve set a status hearing for December.

Earlier this week, prosecutors had asked a judge to put the sentencing on hold. That is a possible signal that Rezko is cooperating with the ongoing state government corruption investigation.

This is the biggest indication to date that, not only is Tony Rezko talking, but what he has to say is making an impression on the feds.

What tales can Tony Rezko tell? That's the question now ricocheting through the federal courthouse and around Illinois political circles.

"We're agreeing to talk, to work toward a resolution that would affect sentencing, but obviously no agreement is in place," said Bill Ziegelmueller, Rezko attorney.

Typically, prosecutors don't agree to indefinitely delay sentencing unless a defendant agrees to talk. Tony Rezko, of course, was Governor Rod Blagojevich's top fundraiser. He also had financial dealings with Barack Obama.

Had Rezko's sentencing gone forward at the end of the month as scheduled, the Obama campaign may have had some unhelpful headlines just before Election Day.

But it is Blagojevich who may have the most to fear from Rezko gabbing with the government.

"When you believe in the truth and you know what the truth is with respect to yourself, you feel good about things," Blagojevich said Tuesday.

Blagojevich cites a letter authored by Rezko and sent to the judge five days after his conviction. In it, Rezko writes, "I have never been party to any wrongdoing that involved the governor or the senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else."

"He wrote a letter to a federal judge, and he was expressly clear that when it came to Senator Obama and me, we never did anything wrong," said Blagojevich.

"Let's see what happens when he is under oath. When Rezko is under oath, is he going to say the same thing? The governor says, 'Let's tell the truth.' You know, there is the truth under oath, and then there is something you wrote in a letter which may or may not be true," said Jay Stewart, Better Government Association.

Tony Rezko's attorney said Wednesday that his client is in what amounts to solitary confinement at the federal lockup in the Loop, one more sign potentially of the federal squeeze being placed on the Wilmette businessman. It is the delay of sentencing that is a tactic that has been used in the past in these public corruption investigations, and the prosecutors are willing to hold off on sentencing as long as what rezKo has to say is of interest to them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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