Blagojevich confidante Tony Rezko returns to federal court Thursday morning, facing sentencing on fraud charges stemming from his failed chain of fast food franchises.
Rezko, a rags-to-riches entrepreneur once worth millions and the unseen power broker behind Blagojevich's administration, pleaded guilty to charges that he defrauded GE Capital out of more than $10 million in loans.
He was also a powerful fundraiser who helped generate thousands of dollars in campaign cash for, among others, a fledgling politician named Barack Obama in his first political races in Illinois. Obama was later involved in a land deal with Rezko involving a parcel adjacent to his Chicago home, which the president later described as "boneheaded."
Rezko already faces more than 10 years in prison for his role in a fraud scheme involving state boards and commissions while Blagojevich was governor. At his sentencing, Judge Amy St. Eve spoke of the message she hoped to send.
"Enough is enough," the judge declared. "The corruption in Illinois state government has to stop!"
Rezko reportedly was prepared to testify against the former governor, but prosecutors deemed him unreliable, and he was never called.