The prosecution in the corruption trial of Tony Rezko has just about concluded its case, and the defense will start presenting its case as early as Tuesday. Or will they? The local CBS affiliate reports that Rezko’s team has gotten chummy with the prosecution after the damaging testimony of Ali Ata and might be looking for a Get Out Of Jail Free card:

The prosecution is preparing to rest its case as the politically charged corruption trial of Antoin “Tony” Rezko rolls toward its climax.

There’s speculation Friday that Rezko could be ready to cut a deal. ….

As the trial winds down, speculation is rampant that Rezko may yet cut a deal, plead guilty and tell the government everything he knows.

“If Joe Duffy and Tony Rezko knew that Ali Ata was going to be a witness in the case to bolster the testimony of Stuart Levine, that would have been a major consideration before this trial even started,” Miller said.

If he wants to cut a deal, time has almost run out. The judge expects closing arguments in nine days, and the jury will get the case after that. The addition of Ata has given corroboration to other prosecution witnesses to influence-peddling and outright corruption, and Rezko could be looking at decades in prison if the jury believes Ata and Levine.

If Rezko turns into a witness, who has the most to lose? Right now, that looks like Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, whom Ata tied to at least one payoff. Rezko could elaborate on the role that Iraqi financier Nadhmi Auchi played in power games, and Rezko’s critical role in arranging bargains might prove even more interesting when told from a first-person perspective.

Rezko will look out for himself. He won’t do a long prison stretch to save someone else’s bacon. By this time next week, Rezko will be singing — and we’ll see if that tune carries all the way to Blagojevich’s ears.

Tags: Illinois