- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) — Political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko returned to his corruption trial today after spending the weekend at home, showing up despite government warnings he would flee if granted bond.

The prominent fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich came to the courthouse early today and sat through a morning of testimony.

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve had released Rezko from custody Friday afternoon after 16 friends and relatives came forward to post homes and other assets to secure the $8.5 million bond. He had been jailed since late January. Even now, he remains under house arrest, with an electronic monitoring bracelet on his leg.

Federal prosecutors had opposed the bond, saying there was a danger Rezko would flee to avoid going to prison if convicted in the cases.

Rezko, 52, is charged with scheming with attorney Stuart Levine to pressure kickbacks out of firms seeking business related to teachers pension funds, and to split a $1.5 million bribe from a contractor seeking permission to build a hospital in a Chicago suburb.

Rezko says he had nothing to do with the schemes. Neither Obama nor Blagojevich are charged with any wrongdoing. The Obama campaign has given to charity nearly $150,000 in contributions received by Obama’s House and Senate campaigns that came from Rezko, his employees, his associates and his family.

This morning, former teachers pension fund private equity director Scott Parrish completed his testimony describing relations between the fund and several money management firms.

Levine has pleaded guilty and taken the stand as the government’s star witness in hopes of getting a lenient 5½-year prison sentence.

St. Eve had revoked Rezko’s bond and ordered him to jail Jan. 28 after federal investigators found that he had received a wire transfer of $3.5 million from a London-based billionaire.

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