Last week, defense attorneys representing figures in Illinois corruption cases tipped the media that Tony Rezko may have decided to cooperate with federal investigators. Now it appears their worst nightmare has come true. Federal prosecutors requested a delay in Rezko’s sentencing, almost certainly a sign that Rezko has cut a deal to limit his time in prison after his conviction on multiple counts of corruption:
Federal prosecutors moved Monday to delay indefinitely the sentencing of convicted fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, sending their strongest hint yet that he is ready to spill his political secrets.
The filing asks for a postponement while prosecutors and defense attorneys “engage in discussions that could affect their sentencing postures.”
Speculation has simmered for weeks that the key fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Sen. Barack Obama was whispering what he knows about corruption in Illinois government to federal prosecutors in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
Rezko raised more than $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund and was one of the governor’s key advisers. He was frequently by the governor’s side in the early days of his administration and could be in a position to shed considerable light on federal investigations into patronage hiring and a host of other issues involving Blagojevich.
Rezko also raised $250,000 for Barack Obama and was his most important fundraiser during Obama’s state senate career, as well as for his US Senate race. The feds are likely much more focused on Blagojevich and Mayor Richard Daley than Barack Obama, though, as they have attempted to crack the walls of corruption surrounding the Chicago Machine for several years. Patrick Fitzgerald may only have a few more months as a US Attorney, and he wants to complete his mission before a new president appoints someone else in his position.
If Rezko turns state’s evidence, Blagojevich had better start preparing his resignation letter. If he gets indicted, he’ll be the second straight Illinois governor to face prosecution for abuse of power in office. I’m guessing that Blagojevich is only a secondary target, though, and that the primary target of this investigation is Richard Daley himself. Blagojevich couldn’t have gotten elected dogcatcher without Daley’s assistance, and for that matter, neither could Barack Obama.
Will Rezko provide the information that finally dismantles the fabled Chicago Machine? We’ll see. In fact, the longer we wait, the better the information will be when the feds finally make their move.