Federal prosecutors say Tony Rezko deserves to spend up to 15 years in prison for his crimes in two separate cases and that he damaged his own credibility by lying to the court.
Prosecutors for the first time publicly addressed why they never called the convicted political fund-raiser to the witness stand after he began cooperating in 2008. They say in more than 19 meetings with them, he did not fully tell the truth about his own wrongdoing until he was confronted by agents with new information. Prosecutors said juries would never have accepted his word.
“Rezko’s cooperation was heavily tainted by the timing of when he decided to cooperate, by his repeated lies to judges, and by his pervasive and sustained lies made to the government over the first several months of his purported cooperation with the government,” prosecutors wrote.
The recommendation is in drastic contrast from the time served that Rezko’s lawyers are asking U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to impose at his Nov. 22 sentencing. Prosecutors said they believe Rezko should face 11 to 15 years in prison for a kickback case before St. Eve and a separate loan fraud case that was before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.
The government’s recommendation is significantly more steep than the roughly five and a half years that Stuart Levine faces. Levine is accused of conspiring with Rezko during Rod Blagojevich’s administrations to win kickbacks from state deals.
“From the government’s perspective, the major difference between Levine and Rezko is not the quality or quantity of their past crimes — both Rezko and Levine are guilty of terrible crimes,” prosecutors wrote. “The major difference between Levine and Rezko is that Levine’s cooperation with the government has been truly remarkable, while Rezko’s has not. For his many faults, Levine’s cooperation is directly responsible for convictions in difficult and important cases against, among others, Rezko, William Cellini, and Edward Vrdolyak.”
They said Levine cooperated “pro-actively.” Levine has testified in two major trials. But Rezko’s lawyers argue, that prosecutors could have called Rezko to testify — he was prepared to do so — but they never did.
“In contrast, the best that can be said of Rezko’s cooperation is that, after obstructing the government’s investigation and his court proceedings and going to trial, he helped the government develop several witnesses who testified against Rod Blagojevich,” prosecutors wrote. “The timing, quality, and utility of Rezko’s cooperation pales in comparison to Levine’s. As a result, while Rezko and Levine are roughly equivalent when it comes to their past crimes, Rezko deserves a significantly higher sentence than Levine because Levine’s cooperation was so superior to Rezko’s.”