CHICAGO — A federal judge canceled convicted fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko's sentencing date Wednesday and one of his lawyers said he is working with federal prosecutors in hopes of getting a break for his client.
The decision to postpone the Oct. 28 sentencing barely stopped short of confirmation that Rezko is spilling his secrets to federal prosecutors. Speculation that Rezko is telling what he knows about Illinois political corruption has swept through Chicago's federal courthouse for weeks.
"We are trying to work toward an agreement that would affect sentencing," defense attorney Bill Ziegelmueller told reporters after the two-minute hearing before federal Judge Amy J. St. Eve. "But obviously no agreement is in place."
Rezko was a major political fundraiser who bankrolled campaigns of both Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Sen. Barack Obama. But he did not supply any money to Obama's current campaign and the Democratic candidate for president has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Rezko was not at Wednesday's hearing. Prosecutors left the courtroom quickly and breezed down the hall without stopping to answer questions.
St. Eve canceled the October sentencing date and set a date for a fresh hearing Dec. 16 _ enough time to see how valuable Rezko's information could turn out to be.
Rezko was convicted in June of plotting with admitted fixer Stuart Levine to launch a $7 million scheme to use clout with Blagojevich's administration to squeeze kickbacks out of a contractor and money management firms wanting state business.
Several of the convictions carry maximum sentences of 20 years. Rezko wouldn't be expected to get that much time for a first offense but still would be looking at years in federal prison. Helping prosecutors could reduce the sentence.