CHICAGO (CBS) — Sentencing has been delayed again for convicted political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former fundraiser for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve granted a request from federal prosecutors on Monday to push back Rezko’s sentencing from Oct. 21 to Nov. 22 so that Rezko’s sentencing does not interfere with the trial of Springfield businessman William Cellini, which begins Monday.
Jury selection is slated to begin Monday in Cellini’s trial, before U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Cellini is accused of trying to shakedown the producer of “Million Dollar Baby” along with Rezko for a $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich. Cellini denies the charges.
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Prosecutor Reid Schar said Cellini’s trial is now expected to last as long as a month. Prosecutors earlier had said it would last two or three weeks.
Rezko could testify at Cellini’s trial, but prosecutors haven’t said he will.
Rezko’s sentencing had been delayed once before this year, leading up to Blagojevich’s retrial this spring, because prosecutors wanted to keep open the possibility Rezko would testify against the former governor. But Rezko never testified at either Blagojevich’s first trial last year or the retrial this spring.
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 has complained to St. Eve about his conditions in jail as he awaits his sentencing, saying he can’t get fresh air or visit with his family. The judge has said she will sentence him once the process of the other connected trials is completed, after which Rezko likely will be moved to a better equipped federal prison.
Blagojevich was convicted of 17 corruption counts at his retrial, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. At his first trial, he was convicted of lying to the FBI, but jurors deadlocked on all other counts against him.
Blagojevich was originally set to be sentenced later this week, but Zagel postponed that sentencing indefinitely, likely to avoid a conflict with the Cellini trial.
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