New sentence for Rezko will run concurrently

December 22, 2011 5:14:29 PM PST
Convicted political fundraiser Tony Rezko is sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in a business fraud case.

A judge told him he would not have to spend any additional time behind bars.

Judge James Zagel says the seven-and-a-half years will run concurrent with the ten-and-a-half-year prison sentence handed down on a separate conviction last month.

While a jury convicted Rezko on political corruption charges, the 56-year-old pleaded guilty to a business fraud scheme.

For Rezko, today's sentence closes a chapter that began five years ago when he was indicted. Tony Rezko's family leaves the federal courthouse for the last hearing involving the case against former governor Rod Blagojevich's top fundraiser.

The convicted 56-year-old was spared more prison time when Zagel agreed to a plea agreement in a separate fraud charge involving Rezko's pizza franchises.

In exchange for the deal, Rezko gave up his rights to appeal his conviction and 10-and-a-half-year sentence for political corruption.

"Mr. Rezko and his family had decided they wanted to bring closure to this matter and it's time for them move on with their life, and that's why we entered into the agreement," said Rezko's attorney, Joseph Duffy.

As he did last month when sentenced by Judge Amy St. Eve on the bigger case, Rezko apologized to the court, his friends and family. Looking frail, he told Zagel, "I deeply regret the actions that brought me here today... I ask God for forgiveness and the court for mercy."

Rezko has been locked up at the Metropolitan corrections Center in Chicago for the past three-and-a-half years. His lawyer says the conditions have taken a toll on his client mentally and physically.

"I don't know of any other white-collar defendant in this district who's ever lived under those type of conditions, and at times, those conditions were comparable to Guantanamo Bay," said Duffy.

Rezko's attorney says that at the government's request, the 56-year-old has endured solitary confinement conditions. That will not be the case when Rezko is transferred to a federal prison.

Zagel agreed with defense attorneys to recommend that Rezko be sent to a prison in Pekin, Illinois.

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