A haggard and contrite Tony Rezko stood before Federal Judge James Zagel on Thursday, apologizing once again for his misdeeds, and waiving any right to future appeals.
“Mr. Rezko and his family had decided they wanted to bring closure to this matter,” said defense lawyer Joe Duffy. “It’s time for them to move on with their life.”
Zagel sentenced Rezko to 90 months in prison, for defrauding GE Capital out of more than $10 million in loans connected with several pizza franchises he operated in the Chicago area. He previously was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison for fraud schemes involving state boards when Rod Blagojevich was governor. The two sentences will run concurrently.
“I deeply regret the actions that brought me to be here,” Rezko told the judge, in a raspy voice. “I apologize to the court, my friends, and my family. I ask God for forgiveness, and the court for mercy.”
Looking frail and elderly beyond his 56 years, Rezko appeared as a shadow of the onetime millionaire who threw lavish fundraisers for Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama at his opulent Wilmette mansion. Once the invisible power broker who stayed behind the scenes in the Blagojevich administration, he stood before Zagel in wrinkled jail fatigues and orange plastic sandals. The judge ordered Rezko to provide over $4 million in restitution, which his attorney said he has no ability to pay.
“I think what has happened to Mr. Rezko is very unfair,” said Duffy, repeating the charge he leveled at prosecutors following a previous hearing, that his client had been kept in harsh conditions during the four years he has been in jail since his conviction.
“I don’t know of any other white collar defendant in this district who has ever lived under those conditions,” Duffy said. “At times, those conditions were comparable to Guantanamo Bay. And Guantanamo is a jail where we have individuals who are housed who vow to kill the United States and United States citizens.”
Rezko is currently housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a high-rise facility in the south loop. With his sentence, he will be transferred to the United States Bureau of Prisons. Duffy asked the judge to recommend the Federal Prison Camp in downstate Pekin.
Relatives shouted “We love you Tony,” and “Merry Christmas”, as he was led from the courtroom.