Antoin "Tony" Rezko

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Antoin "Tony" Rezko is "an Illinois restaurant and real estate developer currently facing federal charges of attempted extortion, money laundering, and fraud." [1]

See also the detailed information in the SourceWatch article titled Barack Obama and campaign contributor Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

Indicted Political Fundraiser

On October 11, 2006, Tony Rezko was indicted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on 24 counts, charged with "an 'extensive' fraud scheme in which he allegedly demanded payments from firms wanting work from a huge state pension fund and favorable rulings from a state board that regulates hospital developments," Crain's Chicago Business reported.

"In the government matter, he is charged with 15 counts of wire and mail fraud, six counts of aiding and abetting alleged bribery, two counts of money-laundering and one count of attempted extortion. He faces two counts of wire fraud in the pizza restaurants matter," according to Crain's.

Fitzgerald characterized "the illegal activities" as "'a pay-to-play scheme on steroids. ... It was a feeding frenzy. People were feeding at the trough for millions of dollars,' he said." [2]

Rezko "pleaded not guilty to charges he plotted to squeeze millions of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business. He also has pleaded not guilty to obtaining a $10.5 million loan from GE Capital through fraud and swindling a group of investors." [3]

"[S]everal years ago, Rezko's generosity began to appear on campaign disclosure forms for prominent politicians in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois," Ray Hanania wrote June 8, 2005, for Arab American Media Services.

"Today, those ties have made him the focus of an intense investigation surrounding allegations he profited from political favoritism and is involved in an abuse of set-aside programs that give minorities a preference in winning state, county and city contracts," Hanania wrote.

Carol Marin wrote in the January 3, 2007, Chicago Sun-Times that the "feds believe that Rezko was a staggeringly talented shakedown artist who traded plum appointments for large donations" to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, "got massive 'consulting fees' for himself and his friends in exchange for state investment business, and, along the way, wiggled his way into all manner of lucrative deals and contracts, some of which came with government tax breaks or subsidies.

"If that was the extent of Rezko's magic, he would still be just another accomplished but mundane player in the riotous world of Chicago corruption. But that isn't the end of his story. It seems, today, like it's only the beginning.

"Rezko, let's remember, was 'traveling' internationally when his indictments were handed down. He has interesting friends the world over. The emir of Qatar is a pal. The former Iraq electricity minister, Aiham Alsammarae, who resides in west suburban Oak Brook when he's not on the lam from a Baghdad lockup, is a Rezko business colleague who's been indicted in connection with $2 billion in missing money meant to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. The feds are investigating what role Rezko may have had in that deal.

"And much closer to home, the feds continue to pursue Rezko's past real estate dealings with Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich, a business relationship that began in 1997.

"Meanwhile, Rezko's city developments, 'minority partners' and contracts with Cook County are also under the federal microscope.

"Some really talented people can play three-level chess in their head. Rezko can do even better than that. He could master at least four levels of government -- city, county, state and international -- all at once," Marin wrote.

Fund-raising "rainmaker"

"And so for years, whether it was campaigning for the late Mayor Harold Washington in 1983, or raising big bucks for former Cook County Board President John Stroger in the '90s, or helping raise money for Sen. Barack Obama, whose rock star possibilities Rezko recognized years earlier, Rezko was ready with hefty infusions of his own cash and millions of dollars of other people's money. And it wasn't just Democrats whom he supported. Republicans from President Bush to former Gov. Jim Edgar got a little lift from Tony," Carol Marin wrote January 3, 2007, in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Business-Political Connections

According to information provided by Bernard Schoenburg in April 2004:

  • CMPC, a residential real estate management company, of which Rezko was chairman. [4]
  • Rezmar, a real estate development company, was founded in 1989 by Tony Rezko and Daniel Mahru. "Rezmar has since developed more than 1,500 residential units in Chicago. Between 1993 and June 30, 2003, Rezmar gave $70,250 to candidates for statewide constitutional and legislative offices, 92 percent of that money to Democrats." [5]
  • "The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has listed his Rezmar Corp. as a career patron - or key donor - to Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn." [6]
  • Kelly King Dibble, "who has been named executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority since Blagojevich became governor, was vice president for business development at Rezmar Inc. before joining IHDA. Crain's Chicago Business reported last year that, before Dibble's appointment, Rezmar pulled out as general partner from at least eight IHDA housing developments. Dibble told the publication she had played no role at Rezmar in the IHDA dealings." [7]
  • Rezko Enterprises is a restaurant company of which Tony Rezko was chairman and CEO, according to a 2000 "resolution passed by the Cook County Board. [8]
  • On a January 2004 fund-raising trip, Rezko "provided $44,982 to the Blagojevich campaign. This included $14,000 for lodging and meals for political supporters, contributors and campaign staff members at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills; $28,000 to a Chicago-area charter flight company for the same people; and smaller amounts to Universal Pictures for entertainment and to a Los Angeles company for transportation."
  • Jack Lavin was "appointed by Blagojevich as director of the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity, was chief financial officer of Rezko Enterprises. ... Lavin was also deputy state treasurer when Quinn had that office." [9]

State Lobbyist

"Rezko also has done business with Bob Kjellander of Springfield, who [in 2004 was] on the Republican National Committee and head of the Bush/Cheney campaign in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan," Bernard Schoenburg wrote. "Kjellander listed Rezko as a subcontractor on the state lobbyist list. Rezko remained on the list for about four years. When 'Tony and I both became aware he was still on my list,' Kjellander said, Rezko was removed early this year. His business contact with Rezko was long before Blagojevich was governor, Kjellander said."


Some "biographical detail" was provided in a "resolution passed by the Cook County Board," Bernard Schoenburg wrote April 4, 2004, in The State-Journal Register. "Rezko is a native of [Aleppo] [10] Syria. He moved to Chicago after graduating from high school. He has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's in construction management from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has been a fund-raiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and was co-chair last [in 2003] of a Chicago event for St. Jude's at which Rod Blagojevich spoke."

External links


Campaign Contributions

Articles & Commentary






The following articles on Antoin "Tony" Rezko have been published at RezkoWatch: