CHICAGO (AP) – A federal judge refused Tuesday to reinstate bond for an indicted businessman who poured thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Barack Obama and others, saying he was a flight risk.
U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve had earlier revoked Antoin "Tony" Rezko's $2 million bond because of concerns that he could flee the country before his Feb. 25 trial.
The real estate developer and fast-food entrepreneur was jailed Monday after prosecutors disclosed he received $3.5 million from an Iraqi billionaire while claiming to be broke.
Rezko's attorney, Joseph Duffy, said it will be hard to prepare a defense while his client is in jail.
Federal prosecutor Reid J. Schar said earlier, "This defendant has played a shell game and I think misled the court about what his assets are."
Rezko had been free on bond since he was indicted in 2006 on charges of scheming to pressure companies seeking state business for kickbacks and campaign contributions.
His name has surfaced in the Democratic presidential race because of his ties to Obama, who ended up donating to charity thousands of dollars in campaign contributions connected to Rezko.
During a South Carolina debate, Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Obama of representing Rezko "in his slum landlord business" when Obama was a young Chicago lawyer.
Obama actually represented partners of Rezko's company in government-subsidized apartment rehabilitation projects, not Rezko himself. Obama says he did no more than five or six hours of work for the partners.
Rezko has contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of both Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich — neither of whom is accused of any wrongdoing.
Obama's campaign announced Tuesday that it was giving to charity more than $70,000 in additional contributions linked to Rezko. That brings the total given to charity to nearly $150,000 in contributions received by the candidate's House and Senate campaigns that came from Rezko, his employees, his associates and his family.
Rezko is to stand trial on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and attempted extortion. He is charged separately with swindling the General Electric Capital Corp. out of $10 million in the sale of a pizza restaurant business.
Federal prosecutors say Rezko was deceptive in leading St. Eve to allow various relatives and friends to post their property to secure his bond while claiming he was broke and living off relatives' generosity.
An FBI affidavit said Rezko actually received $3.5 million from a Lebanon-based bank account of General Mediterranean Holdings, a Luxembourg company owned by London-based Iraqi billionaire Adhmi Auchi. Rezko's attorney said Rezko has had business dealings with Auchi.
Prosecutors said in their filing that $3.5 million was wired into a fund maintained at a Chicago bank by attorneys handling Rezko's tangled finances. They said the money was later transferred into other accounts and disbursed within a week.
Attorneys said Tuesday that the documents depict the money as part of a $4 million loan that would be forgiven in exchange for shares in a Rezko-owned 62-acre tract south of downtown Chicago.
Prosecutors said that only made matters worse for Rezko because he had told St. Eve at their meeting he could not use the land to raise money in part because it was not readily salable and because he was deep in debt.
Reading from a transcript of the meeting, Schar quoted Rezko as saying: "If the property is sold today for $200 million, I will not receive one dollar from the proceeds."
He said Rezko was plainly able to raise considerable money at a time when he could face 10 years or more in federal prison.
"His incentive to flee, in short, has never been greater," Schar said.