Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
This claim comes through Frawley’s emails to, and conversations with, Robert “Bob” Cooley, former Chicago mob lawyer turned government informer and author of the book on Chicago corruption entitled “When Corruption Was King”.
Cooley was the star witness in a series of trials in the early 1990’s as part of an F.B.I. investigation named Operation Gambat. Those trials led to the convictions of over a score of Chicago crooks, including First Ward Alderman Fred Roti, a made-man; the Chief Judge of Cook County’s Chancery Court; the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate; and the only Federal Judge in U.S. history convicted of fixing a murder trial.
About April 2011, Frawley, along with Daniel Mahru, a former business associate of Rezko dating back to 1989, and a former business partner of current White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, began conversations with Cooley concerning collaboration on a book about Chicago corruption.
Frawley’s claim that the money he gave Rezko went to Obama is alluded to in a December 1, 2010 deposition executed in the context of a legal malpractice complaint filed by Frawley, on July 9, 2010, against his former attorney and long-time friend, George Weaver.
Frawley alleges that Weaver was not representing his best interests when Weaver interrupted a March 2006 phone conversation, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between Frawley and Rezko who were scheduling a face-to-face meeting.
Frawley cooperated with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Rezko by wearing a wire.
On page 21 of the deposition, this exchange is recorded between Weaver’s attorney, Daniel F. Konicek, and Frawley:
Konicek: And Tony Rezko was where when you were speaking to him?
Frawley: He was on the other end of the phone. I don’t recall where he was.
Konicek: Okay. Now, that answers one part of the question is who was present when Mr. Weaver made a gesture across his neck with both hands [signaling that the conversation should cease]. But my question was a little different because your complaint specifically alleges he [Weaver] told you to withhold certain information, right.
Konicek: I’m assuming the information is about the payments made by Rezko to Obama, so we know we’re talking about the right conversation, right?
Franklin: (Charles Franklin, representing Frawley.) I’m not going to make any objection. I think that’s – you may make that assumption, but I think it’s unfair to make the – to have Mr. Frawley make the assumption. Also, it doesn’t go to who or where or the forum non conveniens issue.
Konicek: There’s going to be multiple conversations, I want to make sure I understand where each occurred. So you said he (Weaver) withheld information. Am I correct it was about Obama being paid by Rezko?
The Witness: (Frawley) I’m not answering that question based upon my attorney’s instructions.
Less than two months later, on January 26, 2011, the feds charged Frawley with bank fraud, although the statute of limitations on his crime had expired. He pled guilty on February 14, 2011 and was ordered to make restitution of $4,000,000. He awaits sentencing in mid-April after four previous sentencing dates were postponed.
Frawley’s claim, that he passed money to Rezko that went to Obama, is referenced in an email to Cooley dated May 31, 2011, wherein Frawley outlines his thoughts on how to bring “this” to the public’s attention.
From: Dan Frawley (address deleted)
Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
Subject: Frawely [sic] vs Weaver
To: Robert XXXXX (Cooley address deleted)
I think the best way to bring this to the public and media is to fact plead the malpractice case against Weaver.
I have discussed this with my attorney's and they are willing to do it at the right time and way. Instead of a news conference being called like the gay guy did with Obama.
PUT AS THE GUTS OF THE SUIT THE MEETING AT THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE 4OO GRAND GOING TO YOU KNOW WHO AND THE USE OF THE MONEY.
I would bring this out in the for [sic] of a legal action not a personal vendetta. The media with the right reporters would make sure that was national news. When the usual denials are made or the old I don't remember I hit him with the second naming names dates and places.
Punches are always more effective when thrown in combination. know [sic] we figure out the best timing.
Cooley confirmed to a source that “YOU KNOW WHO” refers to then U.S. Senator Barack Obama.
Cooley also told a source that, “Dan was wearing a wire for a couple of years on Tony Rezko, and he told the feds he was giving money to Rezko for Barack Obama. They told him over and over again never to discuss Obama and wires with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and never even mention Obama’s name.”
Another undercover operative for the feds in the investigation of Rezko, Bernard T. Barton, Jr., alias “John Thomas,” was also prohibited from taping conversations concerning Obama.
According to the source, Cooley added that Frawley told him in several emails, during multiple phone conversations, and in a face-to-face meeting in Chicago, that he gave more than $1 million to Rezko “who said that he wanted it for Obama.”
Cooley speculated to the source that the indictment of Frawley ten years after the commission of bank fraud was intended “to keep him quiet, to keep him from talking.”
Despite his long association with Rezko, Frawley was not called as a prosecution witness in Rezko’s 2008 trial.
Illinois Pay-to-Play Editorial
A fond ado we’ll bid to you, poor Blago.
For, alas, we knew you well.
And of your flair in the governor’s chair,
The people here, with seldom a tear,
Will long remember.
Your flowing mane, your short-cut name,
How you quoted Kipling under pressure.
You rang in some a thrilling bell,
For you were a Man of the People.
The simple people.
The union people.
The people who came to you on bended knee for favors.
And state contracts.
You only did what other pols have done, and do still.
You simply asked for your fair share,
From the constant revolving till.
A mere pull of your rake
Through the spoils of the take.
Not for yourself, no, not for you.
But for the common ones.
The suffering ones.
The sick and aging ones.
The Little People.
But, alas, poor Blago, you lacked discretion.
Too boldly did you claim your share.
Too brashly did you drag your rake.
And with too much brass you grabbed your take.
And so, you did, poor Blago, make yourself contagious
With them who would otherwise a blind eye have turned,
Had you not been so audacious.
For in a state where other pols make secret hay,
Your crimes were in the light of day. (And on tape.)
As so yet it continues on past today,
With Illinois Pay-to-Play.
Yet, all would have been well with you, poor Blago,
Had you not flown too close to the Flame,
And burned your wings in the white heat of Him,
They chose past you for a Greater Fame.
A bigger friend of Tony.
So, a fond ado we’ll bid to you, poor Blago.
Be wise in the showers where you will go.
For some are eager there to do to you,
What you did to the People.
Introducing Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic
Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney wrote a nearly insightful piece on a former Governor Blagojevich “advisor” identified in the body of her piece as Antoin Rezko, and in the title as Tony Rezko. Who is Annie writing about?
Is this the same Tony Rezko who served with Allison Davis and Valerie Jarrett as Barack Obama’s senate election campaign finance committee? She doesn’t mention that.
Is this the same Tony Rezko who Obama said he only occasionally shared lunch with, but who federal mole Bernard Barton, AKA John Thomas, reported to have witnessed frequently meeting at Rezko’s office where Barton-Thomas worked while wired. She doesn’t mention Obama.
Is this the same Tony Rezko who helped Obama and Michelle buy that Hyde Park mansion near his home in Chicago, helped him expand his yard, helped him…well, you know all that. She skips all that, too.
Or, was this the former governor’s “advisor” – it’s such a dignified word, “advisor” – who gave former Governor Blagojevich prescient recommendations on competent and knowledgeable persons he, Blago, should appoint to key state committees in order to best serve the tax-payers of Illinois?
Is this Tony Rezko the “advisor” who whispered in Blago’s ear giving timely and clever political advice – cause that’s what “advisors” do, you know – to Illinois’ Chief Executive Officer so that he might act, in all ways and in all things, on behalf of the greater interests of the people of the Land of Lincoln?
The Governor’s Advisor...
…and not Blago’s senior extortionist bag man and close friend of the President.
It’s just hard to tell from Ms. Sweeney’s article who she’s writing about.
She wrote, “Rezko opted to enter jail after his June 2008 conviction, but his sentencing was delayed because of the possibility that federal prosecutors would call him as a witness at other key trials connected to the probe of the Blagojevich administration, including the former governor's retrial over the summer.”
Does Ms. Sweeney really believe that this Tony Rezko was ever going to be called as a witness at “other key Blago trials” where, on cross examination, he might have been forced to elaborate on his relationship with Barack Obama and commit perjury when he lied? Did Annie just move to Chicago from Bulgaria?
For whom does Ms. Sweeney work? Oh, that’s right – the Chicago Tribune. A newspaper that’s been covering-up for Chicago’s favorite son for a long time now.
Now we get it.
She also wrote, ”Prosecutors, in a filing Monday, also described how Rezko withheld information from them, undercutting their investigation.”
Sure. We get that, too.
What’s “shill” in Bulgarian?
Jontel Kassidy, Senior Capital Correspondent
Blago is next to be sentenced, on December 6. Conventional wisdom among the Crook County media pundits is that, since Tony Rezko drew 10½ years, Dead Meat is facing the realistic prospect of even more time.
The prosecution said that Tony was “uncooperative”; even though he volunteered to go to jail before he was sentenced. (Who gave him that advice?) If the intent was to rack up goodwill points at his sentencing, it didn’t work. All it did was give him a preview of the future – at least until his friend Barack springs him with a commutation of his sentence. (Is Vegas posting odds on that yet?)
But for Dead Meat, there’s no commutation, no pardon, no escape on the horizon coming from the White House. Blago and Barack didn’t have that special, symbiotic relationship built, literally, on bags of cash that once linked Tony and Barack at the wallet.
So what’s Dead Meat to do to mitigate the depth of the water he’s to fall into when he walks the plank on December 6th? How might he, unlike Tony, “cooperate?”
He can’t relate details about the former Chicago corruption days of the POTUS, and, thereby, shave off jail time. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has done a stalwart job of protecting Chicago’s favorite son through the whole sordid affair that’s whirled around Tony and Rod. Blago starts talking about Chicago Obama and he might get life without parole!
He can’t squeal on Attorney General Eric Holder’s association, once upon another time, with the effort to endorse a mobbed-up casino in Rosemont. Holder is Patrick Fitzgerald’s boss. How would that work? – Blago fessing up that Holder’s law firm was to get $300 g’s for certifying that the people behind the casino were all former Eagle Scouts and fine, church-goin folks, when he knew otherwise. No joy there for Blago.
So does he tell on the current Governor’s Chief of Staff for what he might have done as Tony’s Chief Financial Officer? Naw, that’d be small potatoes. Besides, who cares? He has some dirt on the current Gov himself? Yawn.
Or, maybe he details how Rezko’s close business associates Dan Frawley and Dan Mahru participated in…oh, serial bad behaviors of interest? Nope. You don’t use a big fish to catch smaller ones.
Okay, suppose Blago does a core dump on Illinois corruption, names names, give dates, outlines plots and pinpoints where the bones are buried, metaphorically speaking, of course.
Maybe he exposes details of the nefarious world of a longtime, high-profile, corrupt, senior alderman. Or, tell true tales about the Daley’s. Rahmbo might like that, but it wouldn’t help Blago.
So just what information, what “cooperation”, does Blago have to offer now that he knows how deep the water may be when he walks off the plank on December 6th?
Is there even anything he can tell that will make the outcome any less catastrophic for him? Or, would his prosecutors just as soon he say nothing and vanish quietly into the federal penal system? Sort of like Norman Hsu did – remember him? You probably don’t, and that may be just what the U.S. Attorney’s office is hoping for. That Dead Meat disappears down the federal rabbit hole and in, say, 15 years, no one notices when he walks out with short gray hair, his children grown, Patty remarried, a self-defeated man. Not a pretty picture.
Not looking good for Dead Meat.
Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
WOW! Today Federal U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Tony Rezko to 10½ years in prison! That can’t be good news for Blago. He’s next.
This reporter is, frankly, surprised – astonished is a better word – that St. Eve came down so hard on Tony. (But we don’t back off the analysis of the Sun Times article yesterday wherein a case was implicitly made by the reporter for giving him time served.)
Does this mean that Tony will do at least the federally mandated 85% of his time before being a free man again? Maybe. Maybe not.
Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama was considerably less than forthcoming and truthful when describing his relationship with Tony before the ’08 election. In short, he lied. Illinois Pay-to-Play will elaborate on that assertion in the weeks ahead.
We expected that, today, Tony might be a free man, sentenced to time served. Or, that his sentencing might be postponed yet again. We were wrong. But that won’t stop us from sticking out collective neck again.
Rezko expects to be pardoned by his friend Obama. Whether Obama wins or losses (or doesn’t even run in) the next election, he will pardon his friend and financial benefactor Tony after the ’12 election. Tony is expecting that, given two eyewitness accounts known to us wherein Tony said he expects Obama to pardon him.
We hope we’re wrong about that prediction, too. Very wrong. Tony did the crime – he should do all the time. And more.
It’s time that will tell.