Convicted Illinois fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko broke his silence behind bars this week and told a local publication he was "shocked" when a judge sentenced him to more than a decade in prison for fraud and bribery.
In a phone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Rezko said he didn't commit crimes he was convicted of but admitted to others. For one, Rezko acknowledged he lied about handing Lon Monk tens of thousands of dollars under the table.
But he never bribed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he said.
Speaking of Blagojevich, Rezko said the former governor knew about pay-to-play schemes involving campaign contributors giving money in exchange for state appointments.
Rezko told the Sun-Times, though, he was surprised Blagojevich was convicted for offering up a Senate seat for sale and called the 14-year sentence "ridiculous."
Rezko said "it was very unsmart" of Blagojevich to talk about President Barack Obama's Senate replacement when he did. “But he is not the evil person who is been portrayed over the last few years," Rezko told the Sun-Times. "I think he did good things for the state of Illinois.”
When asked if it was easy to do pay-to-play in Illinois, Rezko laughed and said no, not compared to other states.
Rezko was convicted in 2008 on 16 counts of fraud, bribery and money laundering crimes. He was sentenced in January to 126 months, or 10-and-a-half years, in prison and is serving the time in a federal prison in Pekin.