Tag Archives: Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial jury, How Stuart Levine a thief and con man became star witness, Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial jury, How Stuart Levine a thief and con man became star witness, Where is Tony Rezko?

“Why was Obama promoting Capri Capital and other investment firms at the same time that Rezko, Levine and Cellini were shaking them down?”…Citizen Wells

“Why was Tony Rezko’s sentencing delayed?”…Citizen Wells

“There is enough corruption in Illinois so that all it takes is someone who is serious about finding it to uncover it. If a U.S. attorney is not finding corruption in Illinois, they’re not seriously looking for it.”…Northwestern Law Professor James Lindgren

Here is another example of why “WE” is capitalized in Citizen WElls. From Commenter and astute observer of Chicago corruption, Bessie, at 10:40 AM.

“In today’s SunTimes there is a propaganda article spoon fed by the
prosecution their justification for choosing Stuart Levine…No mention
of how Tony Rezko would make a better witness, having never been a
drug addict, nor did he ever rip off close friends estate, or have
affairs on his wife with multiple male companions, or suffer long term
brain damage from over 30 years of drug use. They planted this piece
in the weekend paper hoping the jury would read it…and we are suppose
to trust the U.S. Attorney’s office?

Tony Rezko and his partner Daniel T. Frawley will be sentenced
November 22 and 23rd, the day before Thanks Giving, hoping no one will
cover or notice…They think they can sweep these two under the rug and
no one will notice….We should let them know we are WATCHING we are
paying attention and they could sentence them on Christmas day and we
will be there.”

From the Chicago SunTimes October 30, 2011.

“How Stuart Levine — a thief and con man — became star witness”

“To most people, Stuart Levine probably appears unassuming enough.

At 65, he works at a kiosk in a suburban shopping mall selling
electronic cigarettes.

But if the man helping bring down some of the most powerful people in
the state hoped to disappear into suburban obscurity, that hasn’t
quite happened.

Some days while behind that kiosk, the former Highland Park resident
once worth $70 million gets hecklers.

Those are the people who recognize the now minimum-wage-earning
Levine, having had a glimpse of his lurid history, painstakingly laid
bare in public twice after Levine has spent parts of 21 days
testifying in two high-profile criminal trials in Chicago.

He most recently sat as the star witness in the federal trial of
Springfield power broker William Cellini.

If Cellini is convicted, the much-reviled Levine will have been
central to sending some of the most prominent and back-room politicos
to prison. That includes Tony Rezko, a onetime political fund-raiser
to Barack Obama. Levine was the star witness in Rezko’s 2008 trial,
which led to his conviction.

Levine wore a wire against Ed Vrdolyak, a onetime alderman and
behind-the-scenes political force for decades. Vrdolyak ended up
pleading guilty to taking part in a $1.5 million bribery scheme.

Then there’s former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose corruption
investigation stemmed from a probe into corruption involving state
boards that blossomed with Levine. Once he flipped, Levine spent years
getting debriefed by various teams of federal agents and prosecutors.

“This was a massive undertaking,” said Levine’s lawyer, Jeffrey
Steinback, of his client’s role in cooperating since 2004. “You’re
talking about analyzing activities of the entire state government and
having to understand who and what and how it worked and figuring out
from the government’s standpoint who was culpable and who wasn’t.””

“Defense lawyers have repeatedly lambasted the government for pitting
Levine, someone who has admitted to conning people out of millions of
dollars, against defendants who aren’t accused of pocketing any money.

Webb noted Levine spent the better part of his adult life committing
reprehensible crimes, then pointed to an on-screen timeline: the
evidence tied to the criminal allegations against Cellini spanned just
a few days in May of 2004.

“Levine is a whack-job. Okay?” Webb told them.

In his 2008 closing argument, Rezko’s attorney, Joseph Duffy, said
Levine had spent decades living a double-life and fooling the world.
It didn’t end when he faced natural life in prison with no possibility
of parole after admitting to all of his crimes, Duffy argued.

“They are trained to suspect deception, and he conned them,” Duffy
said of the government. “He got the better of them, and he got his

Levine’s deal calls for a prison term of five years, seven months.”

“But there’s another side of the story, prosecutors say: there are few
“choir boys” that can expose Illinois’ odorous underworld.

“Flippers like Levine, you don’t see them too often. He’s an anomaly,”
said former federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer. “The government would have
preferred to have put an honest man on the stand. The problem is that
defendants who are on tape trying to extort money never conspire with
honest men.””
“Testimony at trial showed Levine routinely schemed for kickbacks while
serving on state boards, including the Teachers’ Retirement System. In
2004, when he left the board, he didn’t give the real reason: the FBI
had come knocking on his door and played tapes of him secretly
scheming to make kickbacks off board business.”


Why call Tony Rezko as a witness?

He was only mentioned 75 times in the Cellini indictment and has no drug issues.

He knows everything about corruption in Chicago or as someone stated “He knows where all the bodies are.”

Oops, that may be a problem for you know who.

William Cellini trial closing statements, October 25, 2011, Prosecution closing arguments first, Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial closing statements, October 25, 2011, Prosecution closing arguments first, Where is Tony Rezko?

“Why was Obama promoting Capri Capital and other investment firms at the same time that Rezko, Levine and Cellini were shaking them down?”…Citizen Wells

“Why did Patrick Fitzgerald and the US Justice Department wait until December 2008 to arrest Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

 “Why was Tony Rezko’s sentencing delayed?”…Citizen Wells

From the Chicago Tribune October 25, 2011.

“Courtroom adversaries this morning are poised to deliver closing arguments at the last trial related to the years of federal scrutiny of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The prosecution will be first in addressing jurors at the shakedown trial of Springfield power broker and businessman William Cellini.”

“After the defense finishes its closing, prosecutors get the last word to the jury in a rebuttal.

Before jurors withdraw to deliberate, the judge will instruct them on how to assess the three weeks of evidence.

Each side gets three hours for its closing.”

Read more:


Tony Rezko, who was convicted in June 2008 and not yet sentenced, was not called as a witness in the Cellini or Blagojevich trials. Rezko was at the center of Operation Board Games corruption and was a long time associate of Barack Obama.

Where is Tony Rezko?

Obama role in corrupting IL Teacher Retirement System pensions, Cellini trial, 2007 NY Times article, Where is Tony Rezko?, Where is House Judiciary Committee?

Obama role in corrupting IL Teacher Retirement System pensions, Cellini trial, 2007 NY Times article, Where is Tony Rezko?, Where is House Judiciary Committee?

“Why was Obama promoting Capri Capital and other investment firms at the same time that Rezko, Levine and Cellini were shaking them down?”…Citizen Wells

“There is enough corruption in Illinois so that all it takes is someone who is serious about finding it to uncover it. If a U.S. attorney is not finding corruption in Illinois, they’re not seriously looking for it.”…Northwestern Law Professor James Lindgren

Before I delve deeper into Obama’s connections to the corrupting of the Illinois Teacher Retirement System pensions, I present an article from the NY Times dated October 1, 2007. This article came out before the Tony Rezko trial and at the beginning of Obama’s campaign for the presidency. Apparently the NY Times staff had not done their homework and connected the dots. If they had read the Joseph Cari, Steven Loren indictment press release from August 3, 2005 they probably would not have allowed Obama’s ties to the IL Teacher Restirement System pension, investment companies and people like John Rogers to come to light.

Perhaps this is the reason that the William Cellini indictment was separated from the Blagojevich indictment and the trial delayed until late 2011.

From the NY Times, October 1, 2007, presented in entirety.

“In 2000, after losing a Congressional race, Barack Obama was looking to revive his political fortunes. And he soon found a springboard — a group of black entrepreneurs also trying to break out.

Month after month, Mr. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, showed up at the Chicago group’s meetings, listening to members’ concerns about the difficulties they faced in getting government and corporate business, and asking them what he could do to help.

And help them he did. Members of the group, the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs, say Mr. Obama checked into their problems and helped start a drive that enabled minority investment executives to win millions of dollars in business from the state’s giant pension funds.

If Mr. Obama was able to deliver by helping the executives overcome some of the historical barriers facing minority-owned companies, he also would subsequently benefit from his ties to the group. Several of the businessmen or their wives would help clear the debts from his Congressional race, and six of the group’s members are now among the top fund-raisers for his presidential campaign, according to campaign finance records.

All told, employees at more than 30 of the 42 companies listed on the group’s Web site and their relatives donated more than $300,000 to help Mr. Obama win his seat in the United States Senate in 2004 and set fund-raising records early in the 2008 presidential race.

In his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama has been running on a platform of reducing the influence of money in politics. But with Mr. Obama, as with every politician, money has been the blood flow of his campaigns. And at a critical point in his career, he greatly expanded an early pillar of his fund-raising network while trying to help the black entrepreneurs secure work with the state.

The senator’s courtship of the Chicago group and its members is a little-known chapter in his political development that shows the inextricable link between money and politics and the different interpretations people attach to it.

Jay Stewart, executive director of an Illinois watchdog group known as the Better Government Association, said that in helping these and other executives as a state senator, Mr. Obama also benefited from the kind of special-interest-driven politics he now decries.

“Raising large chunks from special interests was common in Illinois,” Mr. Stewart said. “Obama did that too. Now he’s talking about chasing away special interests; that’s great. But that doesn’t change the past.”

Mr. Obama says his involvement with the alliance reflects his longtime passion for ensuring that minority businesses are treated fairly, and there is no indication that he helped the businessmen simply to secure their donations.

“The suggestion that these pioneering leaders would need my help or anyone’s help in order to succeed is troubling, to say the least,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I’m proud that I’ve spent my career fighting to ensure that minority-owned businesses would have a chance to compete, and I will continue to do so as president.”

Mr. Obama also recently pointed to his work on the Illinois pension issue as a model for what he would do as president to promote minority-owned companies.

In that push, Mr. Obama met with three state pension boards and introduced a bill on the executives’ behalf. He also worked closely with the state’s top legislative leaders to encourage the pension funds to increase the share of their investment portfolios managed by minority-owned firms. That share has risen to 12 to 20 percent now from 1 to 3 percent in 2000.

Other alliance members said Mr. Obama also looked into whether they could get state business in other areas, including legal work on bond issues and the printing of official notices. As Stephen H. Pugh, a lawyer who belongs to the group, said, “He wanted to understand what our needs were and how government could help.”

Mr. Obama, Mr. Pugh said, “would be our representative — our advocate — to bring our views back to state government.”

The alliance was founded in 1992 to help Chicago’s top black executives and entrepreneurs share business tips and push for greater opportunities. According to the group’s Web site, the companies — which also include architecture, engineering, transportation and communications firms — average 65 full-time employees and annual revenues of $19 million.

The goal was always “to open up doors,” said John W. Rogers Jr., the chief executive of Ariel Capital Management, one of the investment firms that received state business. “It was, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson has eloquently put it, to force other industries to have their ‘Jackie Robinson’ moment.”

During its early years, the group’s main political patron was State Senator Emil Jones Jr., who later became the State Senate president and one of Mr. Obama’s chief mentors. In 1993, Mr. Jones took the first crack at opening up the pension business, persuading the Legislature to pass a bill encouraging the multibillion-dollar funds to use minority-owned firms “to the greatest extent feasible.”

But by the time Mr. Obama, then a junior state senator, began meeting regularly with the group in 2000, little progress had been made. As a result, said Hermene Hartman, the alliance president, the pension issues got “a lot of attention” in the discussions with Mr. Obama.

The investment firms were also among the largest and most prominent companies in the group, and some of their executives were among Mr. Obama’s closest friends.

Mr. Rogers, who also sits on the boards of the McDonald’s Corporation and other major companies, played basketball at Princeton University with Mr. Obama’s brother-in-law. James Reynolds Jr., the chief executive of Loop Capital, a brokerage firm, had been a top fund-raiser for Mr. Obama’s Congressional race.

Mr. Rogers said the investment managers also solicited support from Michael J. Madigan, the powerful Democratic speaker of the Illinois House. In 2001 and 2002, Mr. Madigan and Mr. Obama — at times joined by the investment executives — made formal pitches before three of the state pension boards.

And after Mr. Jones became the State Senate president in 2003, he assigned Mr. Obama to a committee looking into the pension questions to help raise his political profile.

During this period, campaign finance records show, executives from Ariel, Loop and two other leading Chicago investment firms, Holland Capital Management and Capri Capital, sharply increased their donations to Mr. Obama’s State Senate campaign fund. And once he began his campaign for the United States Senate, they quickly became a fund-raising core that has carried over into the presidential race.

Mr. Rogers, who is one of three people at his company who have each bundled at least $50,000 in donations for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, said that his financial support for the senator had “no connection” to his company’s efforts to win state contracts, but that it reflected the broader excitement over what Mr. Obama’s success meant for blacks in America.

Pointing to his parents’ struggles to break into the legal business in Chicago, Mr. Rogers said that pushing for greater opportunities was “in your blood, and when you have a peer come along like Barack, who is your own age and lives in your neighborhood, you can’t wait to help him.”

Mr. Reynolds of Loop Capital, who is also one of the bundlers in Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, did not return calls for comment.

In the end, Mr. Obama dropped off the State Senate committee in late 2003 as his United States Senate race heated up, and just as the panel began a series of hearings that produced the most substantial changes.

Still, William Atwood, the director of the Illinois State Board of Investment, said Mr. Obama regularly asked about minority participation in the pension funds when their paths crossed. “He would ask: ‘How are we doing? Are we making progress?’” Mr. Atwood recalled.

The changes have generated several million dollars in fees for some of the investment firms, although the complete totals could not be obtained. Loop Capital, for instance, saw its brokerage fees related to one of the pension funds shoot up to $2.4 million last year from just $5,700 in 2001. All told, Loop Capital received $5 million in fees from managers for that fund over those six years.

Still, things have not worked out as well for some of the investment managers. Both Ariel and Holland were given several hundred million dollars to invest.

But one of the funds dropped Ariel and two dropped Holland last year after their investment returns lagged behind those of other firms.

Mr. Rogers, the Ariel chief executive, said his firm’s value-oriented stocks tended to lag in fast-rising markets, and other state funds say they are sticking with Ariel for now because it has produced impressive long-term returns. Officials at Holland declined to comment.

But Mr. Rogers also complained that the Illinois funds, which are free to hire minority managers from anywhere in the country, have given much of their business to out-of-state firms owned by women and Asian-Americans.

And while Mr. Obama recently told the Urban League that if he was elected president he would use the same model in helping black-owned businesses nationwide as he did on the pension issue, Mr. Rogers said, “Actually, it is a model of how hard it is to get sustained traction.””


The article appears to be lauding Obama’s role in helping minority firms. However, indictments in Operation  Board Games and court testimony paint a different picture. One that strongly impacted Illinois teachers and taxpayers.

From the LA Times April 7, 2008.

In 2002, the year after Obama made the pitch, the Illinois Teacher Retirement System reported an 18% increase in assets managed by minority-owned firms. Ariel’s share grew to $442 million by 2005.

In 2006, after the federal investigation became public, the teacher pension board severed its relationship with Ariel, concluding that Ariel’s investment returns were insufficient.


From Natasha Korecki of the Chicago SunTimes tweets from the William Cellini trial courtroom, October 21, 2011.

“Defense now has first witness on the stand, a TRS attorney who is talking real estate investments, like Cellini’s firm.”

“Cellini’s Commonwealth, used by TRS, had a 20 percent rate of return in 2003 vs Capri Capital (Rosenberg) at 7.35 %”


 Obama is doing to the nation what he did to Illinois teachers for many years.

Where is Tony Rezko?

Where is the House Judiciary Committee?

Howard Coble, et al, are you paying attention?

William Cellini may testify, Cellini attorney Dan Webb informed Judge James Zagel, Stuart Levine not reliable, Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini may testify, Cellini attorney Dan Webb informed Judge James Zagel, Stuart Levine not reliable, Where is Tony Rezko?

“Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action”

“The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.”…Blagojevich defense subpoena of Barack Obama

“There is enough corruption in Illinois so that all it takes is someone who is serious about finding it to uncover it. If a U.S. attorney is not finding corruption in Illinois, they’re not seriously looking for it.”…Northwestern Law Professor James Lindgren

From the Chicago Tribune October 21, 2011.

“Cellini weighing whether to testify in own defense”

“Lawyers for William Cellini told the judge presiding over his federal trial today that the Springfield power broker wants to testify on his own behalf, but no decision has been made about whether he will indeed take the witness stand.
Cellini’s attorney, Dan Webb, told U.S. District Judge James Zagel outside the presence of the jury that the defense team is waiting until the end of Friday to decide whether Cellini will take the stand.

“It’s a major issue for my client to decide,” Webb said. “Right now my client wants to see how this goes.”

In the meantime, Webb is planning to call witnesses to testify about Cellini’s business dealings with the state teacher pension board.

While testimony today has yet to start, Webb, a former U.S. attorney and veteran criminal-defense lawyer, is arguing to Zagel that some counts against Cellini should be thrown out, calling the government’s star witness the least reliable he’s ever seen.

“He is the single-most non credible witness I have seen in a courtroom,” Webb said outside the presence of the jury.

Webb’s remarks were targeted at Stuart Levine, who prosecutors say conspired with Cellini on the extortion.

Levine has a long history of financial scams and kickbacks schemes as well as three decades of heavy drug abuse.

Cellini’s relationship with that board forms the background of the charges against him.

Prosecutors have charged that Cellini agreed in 2004 to help extort a campaign contribution for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich from a Hollywood producer whose investment firm had major business with the state teacher pension board.

Cellini, 76, agreed to the plot, the government asserts, to protect his influence and access to the teacher pension board.

Cellini is accused of conspiring with Leveine, another longtime political insider, as well as two top advisers to then Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Christopher Kelly, to hold up an investment deal by Hollywood producer and money manager Thomas Rosenberg with the Teachers Retirement System until Rosenberg came up with a $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich.

On Thursday, Rosenberg concluded his testimony, describing how he turned to old friend Cellini when Rosenberg’s deal suddenly stalled in Springfield seven years ago. Cellini, whom Rosenberg had known for years and who also did a lot of business at the pension board, could figure out what was happening, Rosenberg figured.

But Cellini’s answer left Rosenberg furious, he testified at Cellini’s federal trial.

Rezko and Kelly had put a brick on the pension deal, and the only way to get it moving again was to make a contribution to Blagojevich, he said he learned from Cellini.

“I screamed and cursed,” Rosenberg responded in a low, even voice when asked how he reacted to the news. “I wanted him to pass on the full level of my fury.”

Cellini is alleged to have agreed to assist in the plot to protect his influence at the Teachers Retirement System, or TRS, where his own investment company had also made millions of dollars.

Rosenberg, 64, who was born in Chicago but relocated to California to produce movies, was relaxed and confident on the witness stand Thursday. At times, he drew smiles or laughs from jurors and spectators during a cross-examination by Cellini’s attorney, Terence Gillespie.

Under questioning by prosecutors, Rosenberg said that Cellini made it clear to him in May 2004 that he needed to contribute to Blagojevich or that the TRS deal with his company, Capri Capital, would not be approved.

Cellini told Rosenberg that Rezko and Kelly were aware of how much money Capri had already managed for TRS and that they were angry that “we had done virtually nothing for Blagojevich,” Rosenberg testified.

Capri’s $220-million deal had already been stalled, Rosenberg explained to jurors.

“I didn’t look at it as a threat,” Rosenberg said of Cellini’s remarks to him. “I looked at it as a fait accompli.”

Rosenberg didn’t blink, instead telling Cellini to relay to Rezko and Kelly that he would sooner go to Blagojevich about their strong-arm tactics than make a campaign contribution, he testified.

He also warned Cellini that Rezko and Kelly were going to get them in trouble with law enforcement.

“If there is not a grand jury already investigating these two, there will be,” Rosenberg said he told Cellini. “These two were so outrageous, so crazy, so wild, so brazen it was just a matter of time.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner then asked Rosenberg how Cellini reacted to his ire.

“He was nervous,” Rosenberg quickly responded over the objection of Cellini’s attorney but then was allowed to continue. “I interpreted his voice as nervous.”

Cellini then told him that he “had to deal with these guys” because he was a lobbyist, Rosenberg said.”

Read more:


Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial defense grills Stuart Levine, Acts of dishonesty, FBI recordings, Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial defense grills Stuart Levine, Acts of dishonesty, FBI recordings, Where is Tony Rezko?

“Why was Tony Rezko’s sentencing delayed?”…Citizen Wells

From the Chicago Tribune October 15, 2011.

 “Witness against Cellini grilled by defense
Prosecutors play more damaging recordings”

“When it came his time late Friday afternoon to begin cross-examining the government’s star witness, Springfield power broker William Cellini’s lawyer wasted no time going after Stuart Levine, a deeply flawed man with decades of wrongdoing in his past.

“Let me start by asking you about your credibility as a witness,” said Dan Webb, Cellini’s lawyer. “Is that OK with you?”

Webb then hit Levine with a barrage of questions about how much money he stole, how many institutions he cheated and how he felt about it all.

Levine paused long and often in his answers.

He had no answer when Webb asked how many “acts of dishonesty” he had engaged in.

“I’ll take an estimate,” Webb shot back, asking whether it was a number “over 500.”

Levine answered that he didn’t know how to “quantify it.”

“Is it fair to say there has been so many you can’t give an estimate of a total?” Webb then asked.

Webb’s cross-examination lasted about an hour before court adjourned for the weekend and will continue next week.

Earlier Friday, prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Levine while playing for the jury some of the most potentially damaging undercover recordings involving Cellini.

Cellini is charged with trying to extort from a Hollywood producer who did substantial business with the state a $1.5 million contribution to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign.

Cellini, whose investment company had made millions of dollars from the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, is alleged to have agreed to work with Levine, a board member at TRS, and Blagojevich advisers Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Christopher Kelly as a way to protect his access at the pension board.

In recordings played Friday, Levine and Cellini discussed how to deal with the failing plot to extort producer Thomas Rosenberg, who threatened to go to law enforcement. The conversations revealed a separate problem for Cellini — his concern that Rezko and Kelly were too obvious in their corruption and already under investigation.

In a recorded telephone call with Levine on May 8, 2004, Cellini recounted advice he had given Kelly after finding him “beside himself sittin’ on the couch.”

“If somebody comes in with badges and flashes them at you and in the course of the conversation says do you know Bill Cellini, just know before they ask that question that they have already checked all your phone logs and they know that we have talked on the phone,” Cellini said.

Some jurors’ eyes widened and one turned her gaze directly on Cellini at that moment.”

Read more:


Chicago SunTimes Natasha Korecki Twitter updates from the courtroom.
“Levine says with Cellini on speaker phone, he, Kelly and Rezko decide it’s too “dangerous” to demand a bribe from Rosenberg.”

“Next call between Levine and Cellini ends: “I do love you, Bill,” Levine says. “I love you too, Stu,” Cellini says.”

“Prosecution ends its questioning of Stuart Levine.”

“Webb to Levine: “a large part of your adult life was committed to doing dishonesty acts?” Levine says no.”

“Long pause in courtroom as Levine tries to count the # organizations he’s cheated over last 40 years. He comes up w/5.”

“After Levine tells us about ripping off numerous charities for millions of $$$, Cellini trial breaks for wknd.”

Stuart Levine testimony, William Cellini trial, Star witness tells of deals made with Cellini, Where is Tony Rezko?

Stuart Levine testimony, William Cellini trial, Star witness tells of deals made with Cellini, Where is Tony Rezko?

“Why was Tony Rezko’s sentencing delayed?”…Citizen Wells

Tony Rezko is mentioned throughout the William Cellini indictment.

Where is Tony Rezko?

From the Chicago Tribune October 12, 2011.

“Insider turned star witness tells of deals made with Cellini”

“Stuart Levine, a flawed political insider whose cooperation helped take down the Blagojevich administration, returned to the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday to tell of more backroom criminal deals.

Levine is the star witness againstSpringfield power broker William Cellini, on trial on charges of plotting to squeeze a campaign contribution from a Hollywood producer whose investment firm had substantial business with the state of Illinois.

Levine last testified in 2008 against Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top adviser to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich who was convicted of using his political clout to orchestrate a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

On Wednesday, Levine, 65, who once made millions of dollars, strode into the courtroom and explained how the scandal cost him his home and livelihood. He said he now sells electronic cigarettes at a shopping mall.

He also told the jury of his extensive drug abuse — including crystal meth and ketamine binges — that started in the early 1970s and went on for decades.

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner, Levine gave mostly monotone “yes” or “no” answers about malfeasance at the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, where he sat on the board of trustees.

At one point on the stand, Levine became flustered when his cellphone rang and he struggled tosilence it. Unable to turn the phone off entirely, Levine finally handed it over to Niewoehner.

Still, Levine’s answers were clear on Cellini’s deep influence at TRS and how they used that to broker an illegal deal with Rezko and Christopher Kelly, another top Blagojevich adviser.

Levine told the jury that Cellini, a close ally, had come to him with concerns about the leadership at TRS and whether enough money was being invested in real estate. Cellini, a longtime lobbyist and fundraiser, owned Commonwealth Realty Advisors, a real estate investment company that was making millions of dollars from TRS investments .

Protecting that kind of power is central to the charges against Cellini, prosecutors have alleged.

Levine said he and Cellini worked to engineer a series of moves to ensure they continued to control a voting block on TRS. Among the moves was putting a friend of Cellini’s on the board, Levine said.

At one point Levine was asked if he was generally willing to do what Cellini wanted when it came to TRS. “Yes,” he responded. And when asked how much influence Cellini had at TRS, Levine quickly replied, “Considerable.””

“The two agreed that Cellini would use his relationship with Rezko and Kelly to convince them to block the pension plan, Levine said. In return, Cellini would promise that he and Levine would use their influence at TRS to steer contracts to companies based on political contributions to Blagojevich, Levine said.

Cellini later told Levine that Rezko and Kelly agreed to go to Blagojevich to try and kill the consolidation.

Levine is expected to be on the stand the rest of the week.”

 Read more:


William Cellini trial opening statements, October 6, 2011, Stuart Levine drug use, Where is Tony Rezko?

William Cellini trial opening statements, October 6, 2011, Stuart Levine drug use, Where is Tony Rezko?

From The Chicago Tribune October 6, 2011.

“Defense, U.S. disagree if Cellini was shaking down or helping”

“After listening to a federal prosecutor for nearly 40 minutes lay out how Springfield power broker William Cellini allegedly plotted to extort campaign cash from a Hollywood producer, veteran attorney Dan Webb stood up and put a decidedly different spin on the story.

Cellini was only trying to help an old friend, Webb insisted Wednesday to the jury. And in the end, he did, Webb maintained.

“This story does have a happy ending,” Webb said with emphasis as Cellini’s long-awaited trial started in earnest following the selection of 12 jurors and four alternates.

The longtime statehouse insider is charged with trying to shake down producer Thomas Rosenberg in 2004 for a $1.5 million contribution to the campaign of then-Gov.Rod Blagojevich.

Cellini was no innocent victim of circumstances, contended Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Deis in his opening remarks to jurors.

“The defendant didn’t slip, fall and find himself in the middle of an extortion,” he said. “He was in. Eyes wide open.”

Cellini’s federal trial on fraud and attempted extortion charges marks the last of the corruption cases arising from the scandal that toppled Blagojevich and many of his top aides.

On Wednesday, two rows of supporters, many of whom had traveled from Springfield, sat behind Cellini, 76, who has wielded influence behind the scenes in Springfield for four decades.

Webb attacked what he called six flaws in the governnment’s evidence, including the fact that Rosenberg won’t testify that Cellini directly asked him for money. Webb also said that it was Rosenberg who called Cellini for help when his investments at the Teachers’ Retirement System, or TRS, were threatened.

Webb also blasted Stuart Levine, the prosecution’s key witness, as unreliable. He warned jurors that they would be stunned by Levine’s “secret life” of serious drug abuse and “24-hour binge parties.”

But the prosecutor noted that secretly recorded phone calls between Levine and Cellini prove that Cellini was deeply involved in the extortion plot.

Deis portrayed Cellini as a consummate insider with access and influence who could simply pick up a phone and reach decision-makers in state government.

In a low and serious tone, Deis explained how Cellini’s longtime connections in state politics set the stage for the alleged 2004 plot.

After more than a quarter-century of Republican rule in the governor’s office, Democrat Blagojevich’s election posed a dilemma for Cellini, according to the government.

But he secretly made a deal with two of the governor’s key advisers, Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Christopher Kelly, that he would raise campaign money for Blagojevich to keep his influence at TRS, the prosecutor alleged. Levine was a corrupt member of the TRS board.

The government alleges Cellini had a financial reason for the move — an investment company he controlled made millions of dollars in fees from TRS.

At one point Deis noted Cellini’s considerable power by referring to his Downstate nickname — “the pope.”

Cellini, wearing a bright pink tie, sat calmly with his hands folded neatly on the defense table as the two sides told jurors what they believe the evidence will be as the trial unfolds over the next several weeks.

On a screen in the courtroom in the U.S. Dirksen Courthouse, Webb flashed a litany of Levine’s flaws, called him a con man and then listed five illegal drugs abused by Levine.

Webb told the jury of “24-hour binge parties” in hotels, including the infamous “Purple Hotel.”

“You’re gonna be flabbergasted by Stuart Levine’s secret life,” Webb told jurors.

The sordid details had played out at Rezko’s 2008 trial. Levine was a key witness for the government then as well.”

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Tony Rezko does not have a drug problem, but he does have a Obama problem.

Where is Tony Rezko?

Where is Tony Rezko?, Obama and Blagojevich crony, Rezko knows where all the bodies are

Where is Tony Rezko?, Obama and Blagojevich crony, Rezko knows where all the bodies are

“Why did the Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee, with Obama as chairman, create and push Bill 1332, “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” early in 2003, which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, just prior to rigging by Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

“I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich

“Why were Stuart Levine and Tony Rezko not called as witnesses in the Blagojevich trials? FBI agent Daniel Cain testified in the Rezko trial. Why was agent Cain not questioned more in the Blagojevich trial?…Citizen Wells

“If the prosecution insists on going forward, I have two words for them: Rezko and Levine,” Cavise said. “They know where all the bodies are buried.””…Leonard Cavise,  DePaul University professor

Where is Tony Rezko, who is still awaiting sentencing after over 3 years?

Is anyone surprised by the lies and doubletalk coming from Blagojevich? Chicago is the capital of Orwellian speak, weasel words.

From the Chicago Tribune June 5, 2011.

“I can say with certitude that the emergence of the expressions “I can’t say with certitude” and “misdirection play” has made last week the greatest week for weasel words — at least since “not intended to be a factual statement” became a catchphrase earlier this year.”

“Blagojevich acknowledged once asking (his former chief of staff John) Harris to look into installing Patti (Blagojevich, the governor’s wife) on the Illinois Pollution Control Board, but the former governor said he did so only to test his preconceived “instinct” that it would not be proper. And Blagojevich said he had Harris arrange an interview for Patti with a Citigroup official, not to land a job, but so she could learn how not to stumble into a position with a “firm that was getting investments from my administration.”

So. Is “it was just a test” a better excuse than “that wasn’t a lie, it was simply a misdirection play,” “I was simply gathering material for a novel” or, my favorite, “don’t you know satire when you see it?”

That all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”

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Obama, Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine

From the Chicago SunTimes.

February 10, 2008.

“In the media, Obama always made it sound like he rarely saw Rezko, saying they met for breakfast or lunch once or twice a year. However, the FBI mole John Thomas helped investigators “build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru’s Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005,“

During his March 14, 2008 interview, the Times told Obama, Thomas is an FBI mole and he “recently told us that he saw you coming and going from Rezko’s office a lot.”

“And three other sources told us that you and Rezko spoke on the phone daily.””

From the Tony Rezko Trial April 14, 2008.

“Stuart Levine, the prosecution’s star witness, said he and Obama were at a party Rezko threw at his Wilmette mansion on April 3, 2004, for Nadhmi Auchi, a controversial Iraqi-born billionaire who Rezko was trying to get to invest in a South Loop real-estate development.

Auchi, now a citizen of the United Kingdom, has faced criminal charges in Europe. He also figured in the revocation of Rezko’s bond early this year after attempting to wire him more than $3 million. Upon learning of that attempt, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve declared Rezko a flight risk and ordered him held in a federal jail in the Loop.

The Rezko party in 2004 was designed to induce Auchi to pour money into the South Loop investment. Obama’s presence at the party was not previously known. At the time, Obama was fresh off a surprise win in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and was riding a crest of national publicity.”

Rezko and Blagojevich protected by Obama Justice Department?, Where is Tony Rezko?, Streamlined lie being told

 Rezko and Blagojevich protected by Obama Justice Department?, Where is Tony Rezko?, Streamlined lie being told

“Why did the Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee, with Obama as chairman, create and push Bill 1332, “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” early in 2003, which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, just prior to rigging by Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

“I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich

“The last thing Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich needed was that letter written by convicted Illinois influence peddler Tony Rezko promising he’d never rat out his pals.”…John Kass, Chicago tribune

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”…Joseph Goebbels

What deals have been made between Obama, Blagojevich, Rezko and the US Justice Department?

From the Chicago Tribune May 14, 2011.

“Heading into the third week of the ousted Illinois governor’s
corruption retrial, it’s clear prosecutors are guided by the adage
that less is more as they streamline what jurors in the first trial
complained was an overly complicated case.

“They’ve made the case a lot of easier to follow,” said James
Matsumoto, who was the foreman at the initial trial and has attended
much of the testimony at the second, this time sitting on spectator
benches rather than in the jury box.

Prosecutors have been right, he added, to begin their presentation by
focusing primarily on the allegation Blagojevich sought to sell or
trade President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat for campaign
cash or a top job. Last year, they waited weeks before getting to it.”
“Laying out such a truncated case does carry its own risks: Jurors
impressed by sheer volumes of testimony and exhibits could be left
wanting more, if not necessarily better, evidence.

What’s not in doubt is that the stripped-down case has thrown off
defense lawyers, who likely spent weeks preparing to ask
cross-examination questions about subjects that prosecutors didn’t
bring up this time.”

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“prosecutors are guided by the adage that less is more as they streamline what jurors in the first trial complained was an overly complicated case.”

Joseph Goebbels and George Orwell could not have said it better.

From the Chicago Tribune January 28, 2011.

“A federal judge has set a new sentencing date for a convicted influence peddler and one-time fundraiser for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Judge Amy St. Eve told attorneys at a hearing Friday that she’ll sentence Tony Rezko on Oct. 21.

Rezko’s attorneys and prosecutors had asked the judge earlier to delay Rezko’s sentencing to allow for the possibility he could testify at two upcoming trials, including Blagojevich’s corruption retrial in April.

At Friday’s hearing, the defense also argued in favor of a new trial for Rezko based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling scaling back so-called honest services laws.”

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Where is Tony Rezko, Citizen Wells February 27, 2011.

“The dropping of counts 1,2 and 4 against Blagojevich by the prosecution was the latest move in a long series of maneuvers to protect Obama from being exposed for his long time ties to Tony Rezko and corruption in Chicago. Rezko was not called as a witness in the first Blagojevich trial and the odds are now higher that he will not be called as a witness in the second trial.”

Read more:


Where is Tony Rezko?

From The Chicago Breaking News Center, November 4, 2010.

“Antoin “Tony” Rezko, once a top adviser and contributor to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, will be sentenced Jan. 28 for his role in a scheme to solicit kickbacks from companies seeking state contracts.

Rezko was not at the hearing this morning at which U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve set the sentencing date.

Rezko has agreed to cooperate against Blagojevich but wasn’t called to testify at the former governor’s trial last summer. With Blagojevich’s retrial set to begin in April, Rezko’s sentencing months before could signal he is unlikely to be called again. Defendants usually aren’t sentencing until after their cooperation has been completed.

A sentencing date was not set today for Rezko’s co-defendants, Stuart Levine, Joseph Cari and Steven Loren, who will next return to federal court for a status hearing in March.”

Read more:


Blagojevich trial, US Justice Department corruption, Protecting Obama, Part 5, Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine are best witnesses, Where is Tony Rezko?, Why hasn’t Rezko been sentenced?

Blagojevich trial, US Justice Department corruption, Protecting Obama, Part 5

“The last thing Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich needed was that letter written by convicted Illinois influence peddler Tony Rezko promising he’d never rat out his pals.”…John Kass, Chicago tribune

“Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant for Rezko, who is believed to be traveling abroad.”..Rezko indictment press release
“That was when U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve learned he had received a $3.5 million wire transfer from a business associate abroad.”…Rezko trial transcripts

Blagojevich trial

Protecting Obama

Part 5

Where is Tony Rezko?

What unholy alliance prevented Tony Rezko from being called as a prosecution witness? Was it a pact between Rezko, Blagojevich and Obama? Is the US Justice Department complicit in a coverup? Was there pressure from entities in the Middle East? Perhaps a combination of those forces. In Blagojevich’s own words.

Citizen Wells August 28, 2008
“As his sentencing nears, pressure is mounting on Tony Rezko to cooperate with federal investigations into some of the highest-profile politicians in the state — including Gov. Blagojevich.”

“Now, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times that Rezko has been seen at the federal courthouse as many as a dozen times since his June conviction. He’s been held since then at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.”

“If Rezko’s cooperating, that would be a major development in “Operation Board Games,” the government’s ongoing probe into state boards that’s widened into a broader corruption probe.”

Read more

From the Chicago SunTimes October 9, 2008
“A federal judge this morning officially postponed the sentencing of political fund-raiser Tony Rezko as he continues his discussions with the government.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve indefinitely delayed Rezko’s Oct. 28 sentencing date and told the parties to meet again for a status in the case in December.
The sentencing, originally scheduled for Oct. 28, just before the election, was likely to bring unfavorable publicity to Rezko’s onetime friend Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Prosecutors and Rezko lawyers said this morning they did not want to set a future date for sentencing.

Rezko lawyer William Ziegelmueller said they sought the delay to “work together to agree to otherwise narrow differences at sentencing.”

The agreement comes as Rezko is talking to federal prosecutors. The Sun-Times first reported Rezko’s meetings with the feds in August and sources close to the investigation later confirmed the talks last month.”

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From the Chicago SunTimes February 3, 2009

“Convicted businessman Tony Rezko — who is poised to become a crucial witness in the massive corruption case against ex-Gov. Blagojevich — was quietly moved out of a downtown jail and into another facility last month, the Sun-Times has learned.
Authorities seeking Rezko’s cooperation pushed for the move after Rezko complained about being held in the tough confines of solitary imprisonment, known as “the hole,” even as he was providing information to prosecutors, sources said.”

“Rezko’s relocation is a sign that even with thousands of taped conversations of the governor, investigators still highly value Rezko’s potential as a witness.”
“Rezko, who served as an adviser and fund-raiser to Blagojevich, provided authorities with substantial information involving the governor and bolstered pay-to-play testimony by former Illinois Finance Authority director Ali Ata, as well as talking about other alleged deals.”

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From the Washington Examiner April 20, 2010.

“Where in the world is Tony Rezko?”

“Why is Antoin “Tony” Rezko under lock and key at an undisclosed location, like some sort of CIA-renditioned al Qaeda operative? And why hasn’t he been sentenced yet?

As the June 3 corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for allegedly trying to sell Obama’s former Illinois Senate seat approaches, the whereabouts of the former Blago and Obama fundraiser is literally a state secret.”

“Rezko’s not listed on the federal Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator, either.”

“Randall Samborn, spokesman for Fitzgerald, told The Examiner that Rezko “remains in federal custody,” although admitting that he didn’t know exactly where the convicted businessman was being held. Samborn also confirmed that “there is no sentencing date,” but would not elaborate. Sources in Chicago tell us that the long delay is “very unusual.””

“Is Rezko being held at another prison facility for his own safety? There are plenty of people in Chicago and Washington who might not want Rezko on the witness stand. They include:

Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

Rezko was such an enthusiastic customer of Giannoulias’ failing Broadway Bank that he wrote $450,000 in bad checks against his account to pay off gambling debts.

Alderman Eddie Burke

Rezko hired Burke’s law firm to get a 77 percent reduction in the real estate taxes of a 62-acre property along the Chicago River he planned to develop using $140 million in city subsidies. After assuring the Chicago Board of Ethics that he would abstain from any Council votes on Rezko’s project, Burke voted for it anyway, blaming his conflict of interest on “an error.” The project was later abandoned.

President Barack Obama

Rezko was the president’s “real estate fairy,” as one Chicago columnist likes to put it. Remember how they bought a house together in Chicago? Rezko was one of Obama’s earliest and biggest fundraisers and donors. Obama was one of his go-to guys for housing legislation in the Illinois state Senate.

If I were Tony Rezko, I’d be hiding, too.”

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It is understandable why the Blagojevich defense team does not want Rezko on the stand. Judge Zagel’s comment about Rezko being a bad witness is at least horsecrap and reeks of conspiracy. Convicted felons of all categories are regularly used as witnesses. Stuart Levine, the key witness in the Rezko trial was not only enmeshed in corruption but was a long time drug user.
Here are the approximate number of times that “Rezko” is mentioned in US Justice Department documents.

Indictment:  100 times.

Criminal complaint:  170 times.

Evidentiary Proffer:  288 times.
Even if a strong argument is made against using Rezko as a witness, and good luck with that argument, Stuart Levine was used extensively as a witness in the Rezko trial, and his name was mentioned approx. 146 times in the Blagojevich Criminal Complaint. And don’t forget, Blagojevich’s name was mentioned at least 30 times on one day of the Rezko trial.

Patrick Fitzgerald, I am damn angry and am speaking up about US Justice Department corruption.

The Chicago Tribune just reported this:
“”I felt all along and believed all along that I was going to testify,” he said. But he said the government case wasn’t as they presented it, without calling witnesses  Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Stuart Levine, both convicted in the federal probe.”

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