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4 Years Probation For Ex-State Official Who Testified Against Blago

Ali Ata

Ali Ata has admitted that he got a high-profile state job in exchange for a big contribution to deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (STMW) – Ali Ata, one of the last figures to be sentenced after being ensnared by the investigation that sent former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to prison, won’t have to serve a day in prison.

A federal judge in Chicago sentenced him Tuesday to four years’ probation, the Sun-Times is reporting.

“I am truly sorry for my actions, and I take full responsibly,” said Ata, former executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox said Ata is the most “honorable man” among all of the defendants in the case and said his testimony was important in winning the convictions of the former governor and political fixer Tony Rezko.

Ata fell under Rezko’s “spell,” according to Ata’s lawyer.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel also ordered Ata to make restitution totaling $150,474, and fined him $50,000.

Ata, 60, of Lemont, pleaded guilty in 2008 to lying to the FBI about giving $50,000 in campaign money to then-Gov. Blagojevich to win his six-figure state job.

Ata also admitted he filed a false income-tax return, failing to report $1.2 million in income from a development deal involving Blagojevich campaign fund-raiser and adviser Tony Rezko

Convictions on those charges normally carry a maximum eight-year sentence, but Ata cooperated with federal authorities, including testifying against Blagojevich. So his plea deal called for a sentence of between one and one and a half years.

Ata testified during his former boss’ first trial two years ago that he was hired for his state job after personally giving Blagojevich a $25,000 campaign check at Rezko’s real estate office in August 2002 and delivering another $25,000 campaign contribution about 10 months later at a Navy Pier fund-raising event.

That trial ended with Blagojevich’s conviction on a charge of lying to the FBI, with the jury deadlocked on other charges. Ata did not testify at Blagojevich’s second trial.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)