- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) - The pivotal figure in a major Illinois political corruption scandal asked Wednesday for a federal judge to set a sentencing date, a signal that he may have ended his cooperation with prosecutors in an ongoing investigation.

Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who made millions of dollars as a Chicago real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur, was a major fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, President-elect Barack Obama and a number of other officials.

Rezko, 53, was convicted in June of using clout with the governor’s office to launch a $7 million scheme to squeeze payoffs out of a construction contractor and seven money management firms seeking state business.

His attorneys filed a motion late Wednesday in U.S. District Court to set the sentencing date at the "earliest possible date."

"Mr. Rezko has remained in solitary confinement at the MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center) since June 4, 2008, the day of the jury’s verdict, and can no longer agree to delay sentencing," the motion says.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, declined comment. The lead attorney on Rezko’s defense team, Joseph Duffy, did not return a telephone message after business hours.

The motion is scheduled to be presented on Dec. 2 before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

Rezko was convicted of 12 counts of mail fraud or wire fraud, two counts of aiding and abetting bribery and two counts of money laundering. He was acquitted of eight other counts.

The corruption federal prosecutors are investigating is focused on the executive branch of state government, though Blagojevich has not been charged. So far, the probe has had nothing to do with activities on Capitol Hill and Obama has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Rezko is charged in an unrelated case with swindling the General Electric Capital Corp. out of $10 million in the sale of a chain of pizza restaurants.

While Rezko was a major fundraiser for Obama in his campaigns for the Illinois state legislature, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, he did not raise money in his presidential campaign. And while Blagojevich’s name came up fairly often at Rezko’s trial, the name of the president-elect was raised infrequently.

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