A tale of two houses

December 19, 2008 4:56:41 PM PST
Real estate deals involving the governor and his wife have attracted the attention of federal authorities.Since Mr. Blagojevich was charged, most public attention has focused on the allegation that he tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.

But authorities are looking at far more than that, including the curious tale of two houses.

The governor owns two houses. The governor's well-known residence on Chicago's North Side and a condominium that he and his wife own in the chic Dupont Circle section of Washington, D.C.

For a man who makes $177,000, owes $2 million in legal fees and is at risk of losing his job, according to property and tax records, Rod and Patti Blagojevich appear to be over-leveraged on their known real estate.

First, the Chicago house:

In 1999, Cook County records show, the first family took out a $509,000 mortgage and have repeatedly refinanced, pulling out cash each time even if they paid a significantly higher interest rate.

Most recently they took out a $524,000 mortgage. Then early this year they borrowed $170,000 in a second mortgage.

The Washington condo:

On the third floor of the building, one bedroom now valued at more than $500,000, purchased in 1997 when Mr. Blagojevich went to serve in Congress.

In 1997, they took out a $155,000 mortgage and refinanced for $233,000 in 2005.

Throughout that time period, federal agents say Patti Blagojevich was closely involved in real estate deals with convicted land schemer Tony Rezko.

Rezko is now cooperating with U.S. prosecutors concerning possible cash kickbacks and sweetheart deals with the governor and first lady.

And a third house has become a point of contention although the governor has never lived there: the executive mansion in Springfield.

Even though the governor has never lived here, he put up his criminal defense lawyer Ed Genson in the mansion during this week's impeachment hearings, angering some in Springfield.


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