Updated 1/6/10 – 1:29 p.m. CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — The sentencing hearing for convicted political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko has been delayed until fall in case he testifies against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich this spring.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve agreed to a request from federal prosecutors and Rezko’s attorneys to push back his Jan. 28 sentencing to the fall.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys said they want to keep open the possibility that Rezko will cooperate in the case against Blagojevich, possibly by taking the stand when the former governor is re-tried in April.
During the hearing, Rezko complained to St. Eve about his conditions in jail as he awaits his sentencing.
“It’s been a very tough time,” Rezko, 55, said in a weak, halting voice standing with chains around his ankles. “I have not had fresh air and no contact visits with my family.”
St. Eve told Rezko she would sentence him as soon as “the process works through” — after which Rezko would likely be moved to a better equipped federal prison.
Rezko, a key Blagojevich fundraiser, didn’t testify at the former governor’s first trial, which resulted in Blagojevich’s conviction on a single count of lying to the FBI. Jurors were deadlocked on 23 other fraud, bribery and extortion charges against him.
In 2008, Rezko was convicted on 16 counts accusing him of scheming to get kickbacks out of money management firms wanting state business. Several counts carry maximum 20-year prison terms.
Rezko attorney Joe Duffy also said Rezko could be called as a witness at the related trial of businessmen William Cellini, a longtime fundraiser and behind-the-scenes power broker in Illinois politics charged with illegally plotting to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich.
Blagojevich’s retrial may be over by the time Cellini’s starts.
Prosecutors portrayed Rezko at his trial as an especially sinister figure, which many legals observers have said would make him a less-than-ideal witness for the government.
Still, Duffy said his client hoped to benefit from any cooperation. But he said if either the Blagojevich or Cellini cases drag out beyond September, Rezko’s conditions in detention would compel him to be sentenced before then.
“The hardship is too severe,” he said.
While eventually agreeing to delay Rezko’s sentencing to allow the Blagojevich and Cellini trials to play out, St. Eve admonished Rezko attorney Joe Duffy for apparent indecision that, she said, had already forced her to scramble to rearrange her already tight court schedule.
“It’s been on again, off again,” she complained about setting a date to sentence Rezko. “Hurry up, stop. Hurry up, stop.”
While she agreed to set a date for late in the year, she said she would set a specific date only sometime in the summer.
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