NOVEMBER 22, 2011
President Obama’s close friend and longtime financial supporter, Chicago businessman Antoin Rezko, has been sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison for operating a massive corruption scheme in which he extorted millions of dollars in kickbacks from investment firms seeking state business.
For years Rezko was a major donor and adviser to convicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but his name first surfaced on the national scene during the 2008 presidential election because then-candidate Obama had received hefty campaign contributions from him and the two were longtime pals. In fact, Rezko subsidized a $1.65 million home Obama purchased in Chicago’s South side in 2005 and he hosted a fundraiser for the then- U.S. Senator.
When the feds charged Rezko with extortion, influence peddling and conspiracy, Obama vowed to return all the tainted money—at least $200,000 by some accounts—that his buddy had given him. Rezko was also accused of obtaining a $10.5 million loan from GE Capital through fraud and swindling of group investors.
The Syrian-born businessman has been in jail since his June 2008 conviction but his sentencing was delayed because he was scheduled to testify in Blagojevich’s 2010 corruption trial and retrial this past summer. Judicial Watch covered both Chicago federal trials, which prominently mentioned Obama and his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who left the post to become the city’s mayor.
That’s because Blagojevich tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Obama got elected president. Obama wanted his close friend Valerie Jarrett to finish his senate term and, as Illinois governor, Blagojevich had the power to make it happen. In return, he wanted a federal job that paid a lot of money or some sort of foreign ambassadorship that could lead to bigger and better things.
A federal jury ended up convicting Blagojevich of 17 corruption charges and the disgraced former governor is scheduled to be sentenced in early December. He will join an all-star lineup of crooked Illinois politicians when he becomes the state’s fourth governor to serve time for corruption in the last three decades.
Of interesting (but not surprising) note is that the mainstream media coverage of Rezko’s sentence this afternoon fails to mention his close ties to the president. A number of headlines describe Rezko as a Blagojevich political fundraiser and adviser, but conspicuously absent is any mention of Obama.
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