Testimony: Rahm never wanted to sell Chicago home

December 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

One of the key contentions is Emanuel had no intention of returning to Chicago, and he rented out the home and extended the lease, but Thursday a friend of Emanuel said the renters made it less easy for him to return home and put a price tag on their cooperation: $100,000.

Real estate broker Paul Levy said he's been friends with Rahm Emanuel for almost three decades and found him the home on North Hermitage that Emanuel rented when he left for Washington.

In testimony Thursday, Levy said Emanuel never expressed any interest in selling the home.

"He always expressed interest that he wanted to keep the house," Levy said.

Levy testified that Emanuel, before heading to Washington, told him he intended to be White House chief of staff for just one or two years.

After Emanuel resigned the post, Levy said he was asked to approach Emanuel's tenants, Rob and Laurie Halpin, about ending their lease early.

The couple's response, Levy said, came through an attorney.

"He suggested to me that Mr. Halpin was looking for $100,000 to leave the house early," said Levy.

Levy said Emanuel called the offer "ridiculous" and asked Levy to counter with $5,000 for each month left on the lease, an amount totaling up to $40,000.

"He called me probably the next day or the day after and said Mr. Halpin is not interested," said Levy.

Also testifying Thursday: Tax accountant James Kane, who analyzed Emanuel's amended 2009 Illinois tax return, which showed a change in residency status from part-time to full-time.

Kane said he found nothing, from a tax standpoint, indicating Washington residency.

"I didn't see any intention to establish a new location as a domicile, because there was not a D.C. driver's license," Kane said. "There was not a registration in D.C. There was not a voter registration or an automobile registration."

Emanuel's attorneys also presented photographs that they say show a storage area housing important Emanuel items at the home, an indication, his attorneys have argued, of the family's intent to return to Chicago.

Also Thursday: Two requests filed by objectors were denied by the hearing officer. One called for a visit to the home to verify the disputed boxes in a storage area and another was a subpoena to call Rahm Emanuel's wife to testify

Closing arguments were under way late Thursday afternoon and testimony has wrapped up. A Monday deadline has been set for a written brief in the case.

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