Former political fundraiser Tony Rezko was sentenced to an additional seven and a half years in prison Thursday, but it won't make his current sentence any longer.
“I don't know of any other white collar defendant in this district who's ever lived under those type of conditions,” Defense attorney Joseph Duffy said. “At times, those conditions were comparable to Guantanamo Bay.”
Last month, Rezko was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison for shaking down businessmen for campaign contributions amounting in more that $7 million to put toward the Rod Blagojevich campaign.
Rezko plead guilty last year to running a fraud scheme that netted more than $13 million in business loans.
The new sentence comes from a conviction for loan fraud.
A gaunt Rezko, 56, stood before Zagel in a green prison shirt and shower shoes, asking for leniency in a sometimes-raspy voice.
"Your Honor, I deeply regret the actions that brought me to be here," Rezko said, apologizing to his family and friends. "I ask God for forgiveness and the court for mercy."
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Judge James Zagel allowed the new sentence will run concurrently with the previous sentence, as long as Rezko does not appeal his previous sentence or conviction.
Rezko has already served over three years, so he'll spend another five years or so behind bars.
The former fundraiser's attorney said Rezko should have gotten more credit for the time already served, because so much of it has been in severe solitary confinement.
Authorities said Rezko tried to defraud lender GE Capital by appearing to sell his restaurants to employees.
Rezko needed to pay off existing loans on the pizza restaurants, according to an earlier plea declaration. When told by the lender that he should consider selling off some of his restaurants, Rezko devised a scheme to keep control of the businesses by using his employees as false owners.
"Defendant also assured these individuals that they would not have to put any of their own money at risk and, to the extent that their group of restaurants was profitable, they could expect to receive a bonus from the defendant in the future," the plea declaration said.
Rezko gave GE Capital falsified documents that made the restaurants appear more profitable, while planning to not enforce terms of the sales to his employees. He only told investors in his company that the pizza restaurants had been "refinanced," according to the plea declaration.
Rezko already has made some restitution payments. He was ordered Friday to pay the remaining $4 million.
Zagel briefly noted the "significant damage" Rezko did before sentencing him within the terms of his agreement with prosecutors.
Several of the figures linked to Rezko by federal prosecutors investigating Illinois corruption have since been convicted. Zagel gave Blagojevich a 14-year prison sentence this month, days after Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Rezko to 10 1/2 years, minus time served.
During his 2008 trial, prosecutors said he raised over $1 million for Blagojevich and got so much clout in return that he could control two powerful state boards. They accused him of trying to squeeze payoffs from money management firms and a $1.5 million bribe from a contractor trying to build a hospital.
Rezko raised money for Obama during his campaigns for Illinois senator, though not for his presidential campaign. Obama has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case.
Rezko's sentence was seen by many legal experts as a baseline for the amount of time Blagojevich would receive. He faced a maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge.
"Mr. Rezko and his family had decided they wanted to bring closure to this matter and it's time for them to move on with their life," Rezko attorney Joe Duffy said.
As he left court Thursday, Rezko was greeted by more than a dozen relatives sitting in the audience. Several shouted, "We love you!" and "Merry Christmas." Rezko smiled and waved.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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