Feds ask for 11-plus years in prison for Rezko

November 4, 2011 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: The convicted business tycoon will be looking at a long prison sentence.

Rezko has never been elected or appointed to anything in Illinois, but for years he was the man behind the curtain in the administration of Rod Blagojevich. Federal prosecutors have considered him as the "Wizard of Rod," pulling the levers on government cheating, bribes and payoffs.

Now, the government wants Rezko behind an iron curtain for up to 15 years.

It was just five years ago that Rezko had Governor Blagojevich's ear--and they both hand their hands in the state's pocket.

"Today we unsealed two indictments against Antoine Rezko, both involved efforts to illegally obtain millions of dollars," said United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Rezko was Blagojevich's chief of shakedowns, a real estate developer from the North Shore. Rezko was the outsider, unencumbered by the government rules and regulations of his co-defendant Stuart Levine.

Levine was Blagojevich's inside advisor and corrupt member of the teacher's pension board.

According to the government's memo filed Friday in advance of Rezko's November 22 sentencing, Rezko was the "idea man and point person" who was to "convert power...into millions" of dollars for himself and Blagojevich and a few others in what prosecutors call a "breathtaking fraud."

Rezko decided to cooperate with authorities only after he was convicted. Levine cooperated from the beginning and pleaded guilty.

According to federal officials Friday, either Levine or Rezko could have been selected to testify against Blagojevich but that they chose Levine. Of two dirty witnesses they determined, Rezko was the least reliable.

Although the government had to take Blagojevich to trial twice, the strategy was successful. Levine also testified against Springfield power broker William Cellini, who was convicted this week, leading prosecutors to state in Friday's court filing that Levine's cooperation was "dramatically more valuable" than Rezko's.

Rezko was a chronic liar and manipulator, according to the government's sentencing memo, and not to be trusted. His limited cooperation will probably end up doing him some good though.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Rezko is eligible for life in prison. Prosecutors are asking for 11 to 15 years.

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