21Nov/110

The Sun Times Asks “How much time will Tony Rezko serve?”

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Natasha Korecki, Federal Courts Reporter for the Sun Times, asked that question in a recent article.

Tony is scheduled, once again, to be sentenced Tuesday, November 22, in federal court. We’re holding our collective breath.

The rest of Natasha’s piece is designed to prepare us for a sentence of “time served.”  Here’s what we’re told:

  • The U.S. Attorney, Patrick “Elliott Ness” Fitzgerald, wants Tony to serve 11-15 years for failing to cooperate. (That’s because Patrick’s what John Kass of the Tribune calls, the Exterminator of criminals.)
  • Tony’s lawyer says that Tony’s “talks with the government” help encourage others, like Lon Monk, to testify against Blago.
  • A defense attorney says that the judge could credit Tony for his cooperation (What cooperation?) even though he wasn’t called to testify against Blago.
  • The judge doesn’t have to follow the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation. (Oh, oh. Brace for impact.)
  • Meanwhile, “Rezko served about nine months in the most restrictive jail conditions at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center — a Special Housing Unit called the ‘SHU,’ where ‘high-risk’ inmates, including accused terrorists and currently a suspected high-ranking leader of a violent Mexican drug cartel, are held. High-profile defendants or those cooperating with prosecutors are also held there.”  (So now the Sun Times knows where Tony’s been. Who leaked this time? Chase again?)
  • Unidentified “legal observers” say the judge could credit Tony for having done jail time in harsh conditions. (Are you feeling set-up yet?)
  • A former Chief of Staff of former Governor, now inmate, George Ryan says that the SHU “should not be shrugged off.”  (Are you feeling Tony’s pain yet?)
  • Tony also spent time in a Wisconsin county jail (Really?) “…where he cannot go outdoors and has not had any physical contact with family.”  (OMG, such an ordeal for poor Tony!)

This article reads like the storyline for a sequel to A Christmas Carol with Tony playing a grown-up Tiny Tim.  Patrick Fitzgerald is the legalistic Scrooge. The kindly Judge St. Eve releases Tony from the clutches of debtor’ prison and he limps into the sunset – a free man.

Sort of like…John Thomas. Another faux witness to corruption in Crook County, never called to testify.

Get ready for time served. Unless there’s another sentencing postponement. And what a shock that’d be!

4Oct/110

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? On Sharing Information with the USAO (Part 6)

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

Patrick Fitzgerald has, on several public occasions, encouraged citizens with knowledge of corruption to come forward and tell his office what they know. It’s only with their help, he has said, that the USAO can clean up corruption in Crook County.

Okay.  Well, here’s a test of that exhortation.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you knew of someone associated with the legal team that represented a former business associate – oh, say, a bean counter (BC) – who’d done work for a high-dollar fund raiser facing possible indictment by a Grand Jury for allegedly being a Bag Man (BM) for a state-level politician.

Now, suppose also, that you learned that this someone made sure that BC (who was scheduled to testify before a Grand Jury as a witness in a complaint against BM) received past due payment for services BC had once provided BM.  Let’s say BC preformed miraculous accounting services.

Now, of course, this payment wasn’t a bribe.* Of course not! Just a late payment for past services rendered that just happened to come in the midst of BM’s Grand Jury saga. Pure coincidence. Read along, nothing to see here.

Now, imagine you knew that another person, a person of note within the U.S. Attorney’s office, had learned of this payment, but brought no charges against that someone close to BC’s legal team, for, what some might construe as…well, maybe not technically tampering with a witness (Title 18 U.S.C. section 1512), but something highly inappropriate.

Now, in this purely hypothetical example, where any relationship to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental, would you pass that information to the USAO and expect anything to come of it? Knowing that office’s proclivity to leak?

Not unless you’d been dropped on your head once and never fully recovered.

Oh, BTW, speaking of bribes, on April 18, 2006, in an article reporting on the conviction of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, The New York Times quoted Fitzgerald concerning bribes.

"People now know that if you're part of a corrupt conduct, where one hand is taking care of the other and contracts are going to people, you don't have to say the word 'bribe' out loud," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "And I think people need to understand we won't be afraid to take strong circumstantial cases into court."

 

Hat tip: John Chase, Chicago Tribune