Intelligence Report: 3 Blagojevich cronies in federal court this week

July 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: The luck of the draw this week brings together three of Blagojevich's top cronies separately in federal court this week.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the troika of former Blagojevich buddies will have their cases called in federal court. Ali Ata and Stuart Levine will be sentenced, and Bill Cellini will attempt to have his sentencing put off.

Even though their cases were all separate prosecutions, they were all beholden to Blagojevich.

Chicago businessman Ata pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in an effort to cover his tracks with Governor Blagojevich and corrupt developer Tony Rezko.

Ata also pleaded to tax fraud. As part of his plea deal with the government, he agreed to a 12-to-18 month prison sentence. Tuesday, though, according to a court filing, Ata's attorney will ask that the 60-year-old Jordanian native be given probation in consideration for his lengthy cooperation with prosecutors and testimony. Judge James Zagel will decide and impose sentence.

Then, on Wednesday, it will also be Judge Zagel who will decide whether to grant a motion by corrupt business tycoon William Cellini to postpone his sentencing.

After a career of backstage wheeling and dealing, Cellini was convicted in November of trying to shake down a Hollywood producer for Blagojevich campaign contributions. The 77-year-old had a heart attack last month followed by a blood clot. Prosecutors want an eight-year sentence.

Finally, on Thursday, serial swindler Stuart Levine will be sentenced.

Levine testified against both Cellini and Rezko and helped to convict both of the former Blagojevich financiers. Levine pleaded guilty to a money laundering and tax fraud.

Judge Amy St. Eve could hand Levine what amounts to a life sentence, but in this new government filing, prosecutors call Levine "one of the most valuable cooperators that United States attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois has relied upon in public corruption cases over the last 30 years." Prosecutors will ask for a sentence of 5 1/2 years, which is what they agreed to in his plea deal, and they say will fairly and justly balance both the harm that Levine inflicted on his victims and the good that has come from Levine's decision to cooperate.

And, if that isn't already a week's worth of corruption, Tuesday will also see former Blagojevich fundraiser Raghuveer Nayak in court for a hearing in his medical kickback case. Nayak was the link between Blagojevich and Jesse Jackson Jr. in the infamous "golden" U.S. Senate seat.

The appeal of imprisoned Governor George Ryan is also back in court. Arguments are at 2 p.m. Friday.

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