Edward Vrdolyak, Fast Eddie, Obama thugs, Pay to play politics, Citizen Wells open thread, October 14, 2010
Edward Vrdolyak, Fast Eddie, Obama thugs, Pay to play politics
Edward Vrdolyak, Fast Eddie, a crony of Obama, Blagojevich, Rezko, Levine, et al, is back in the news.
From the Chicago Tribune October 13, 2010.
“Former alderman and Cook County Democratic chair, convicted of fraud, has tapped high-powered connections to benefit charity — and work off his sentence”
“Some felons sentenced to community service work end up doling out soup at homeless shelters. Legendary political insider “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak worked off many of his court-ordered hours by organizing a star-studded fundraiser at Gibsons steakhouse and driving around in his car while recruiting friends by cell phone to aid a charity.
Handwritten log sheets released Wednesday by his lawyers show that Vrdolyak has logged 1,750 hours on behalf of a DuPage County charity that works with law enforcement to help needy children and veterans, mostly by making phone calls and holding “skull sessions” with donors.
In a controversial sentence last year, Vrdolyak eluded prison for a fraud conviction, but after prosecutors complained, an appeals court ordered he be resentenced. Prosecutors are seeking 31/2 years in prison for him Friday.”
“U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who will impose the new sentence, will have dozens of character reference letters to read from Vrdolyak supporters — and he can get an earful about Fast Eddie’s virtues from Elsner as well.
“I know I’m going to be crucified for saying this, but Ed Vrdolyak is the finest man I’ve ever met,” Elsner said. “You just come away from talking to him feeling better about things.””
Gee Wally, he seems like a really swell guy.
I promised you that despite the best attempts of the Obama camp, US Justice Dept. and mainstream media to qwell Obama’s ties to Chicago corruption before the November elections, I would continue to keep this issue alive. Well, here is the truth about Vrdolyak and how the dots are connected to Obama and Blago.
Edward Vrdolyak Indictment
The highlighting below is my doing. Also, in the spirit of “Subliminal Man” from “Saturday Night Live” I have added names in parenthesis that may be relevant.
From the Chicago Tribune August 7, 2008.
Attorney Michael Monico told U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur that prosecutors turned over 250,000 pages of discovery documents just two weeks ago, and the judge agreed to move Vrdolyak’s trial date to Nov. 4 from Sept. 15.
(US Justice Dept.)
From the Tony Rezko trial transcripts.
March 18, 2008; 5:16 p.m.
“In his first 20 minutes on the witness stand, Stuart Levine admitted that he had passed numerous bribes to win private and government business for several firms with which he was connected.
Levine said former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak acted as a middleman in two bribe schemes, including one to secure a contract with the city Board of Education. On both occasions, Vrdolyak was to pass the bribes onto others, he said.
Levine said he also paid a $500,000 bribe to an undisclosed city official to obtain a tire contract from the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Levine also said he passed on bribes of hundreds of thousands of dollars to win a contract to supply school buses to the Board of Education.
Levine also admitted that he had used hard drugs and distributed drugs to others since the 1970s.
“I experimented with LSD, marijuana, cocaine, quaaludes, Ecstasy, crystal methamphetamine and ketamine,” he said.
Levine, who faces up to life imprisonment, said he hopes to be sentenced to 67 months in prison in return for his cooperation with the government.
“If I lie, the plea agreement is null and void,” he said.
He admitted that after he agreed to cooperate with the government in early 2006, he lied once about Vrdolyak. “I tried to protect him,” he said.
Asked why he decided to allegedly tell the truth about Vrdolyak, Levine said, “I realized that the government realized that I was lying.””
March 18, 2008; 6:06 p.m.
“Stuart Levine also told the jury that at the request of former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, he funneled money to Democratic candidates through straw contributors.
Asked by Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher Niewoehner if he expected to get anything in return, Levine said: “Access.”
Levine testified that from 2000 to 2004, he made a combined $9 million to $10 million. Now, he works as a messenger for a delivery service at $800 a week, he said.
Levine walked through his history of serving on state boards, which, in addition to the Health Facilities Planning Board and the Teachers’ Retirement System board, also included a three-year stint on the Gaming Board. Levine said he eventually resigned.
“I didn’t enjoy the pressure I was getting,” Levine said in a poised manner that seemed well-practiced.
Levine then related how he first met Antoin “Tony” Rezko at a dinner party at the home of Fortunee Massuda, a podiatrist who was also a Rezko business partner.
The dinner took place Nov. 2, 2002, just days before the gubernatorial election. Levine had served as the finance chairman for Republican Jim Ryan. Rezko was an important fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich, Ryan’s opponent.
Levine said he was invited to the dinner by Ruth Rothstein, the head of the Cook County Health Services Department and a friend of Levine’s business partner Robert Weinstein.
Rothstein told Levine that Massuda invited him because she wanted to thank him for speaking up for her proposal before the hospital board to establish a free-standing surgical center on the South Side.
Levine said he had done so as a favor to Rothstein.
In addition to Massuda and her husband, Charles Hannon, others at the dinner included Rothstein, Rezko and his wife, as well as Orlando Jones, the godson of the late Cook County Board President John Stroger.
At the party, Levine said, he and Rezko began talking about their opposite roles in the campaign for governor. Rezko then told Levine that they had mutual friends in Republican power brokers Bill Cellini and Robert Kjellander.
The talk at the dinner then turned to a valuable piece of Gold Coast property that had once been home to the Scholl School of Podiatry at Oak and Dearborn Streets.
The school was in the process of being sold to a North Chicago medical school, now know as Rosalind Franklin University.
Levine served on that school’s board of directors, as did his partner Weinstein. In his capacity at the medical school, Levine was also in charge of selling the Scholl building, and he testified that he had a buyer lined up who was going to pay $15 million. Some $1.5 million was going to be paid as a finder’s fee to Vrdolyak, Levine said.
Levine said Vrdolyak was going to share half of that money with Weinstein and him, even though as board members at the school, such an arrangement would be illegal.
At the party, Levine said, he mentioned that he was having problems closing the sale, and at that point, Massuda chimed in that she had a clinic in the building and would like to buy it.
Levine said he then asked her if she had any role in holding up the sale. Levine said that simultaneously Massuda said, “No,” but Rezko said, “Yes.”
Massuda and Rezko had a short talk, which ended with Massuda saying, “I didn’t want it to come out this way,” and Rezko saying, “Why not just tell him?”
Levine said Rezko then told him that if he already had a buyer lined up for the building, he would no longer stand in his way. Levine did not specify what Rezko was doing to block the sale.
By Election Day, the following Tuesday, Rezko was true to his word, and the sale’s obstacle was resolved, Levine said.”
April 1, 2008; 6:17 p.m.
“But the jury did hear a long call between Levine and his longtime business partner, Dr. Robert Weinstein, about Rosenberg and his larger TRS plans. Rosenberg would be given the choice to raise the campaign cash or to pay a finder’s fee on the $220 million allocation through former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, whom Levine said he had used before to pass bribes.”
April 3, 2008; 5:56 p.m.
“Levine still had not agreed to cooperate, and Levine told Duffy that he did not believe the government was aware of the “secret part of his life,” meaning his drug abuse and hotel parties with male friends.
In August 2005, Levine was indicted again, and he still had not agreed to flip. Duffy asked again whether the fact that Levine thought his secret life was still concealed from his family and others was a factor in his decision not to help the government.
“I don’t have a recollection of even thinking about the government knowing about my drug use or not,” Levine answered.
In fall 2005, Levine said, he became aware that one of his drug friends had been interviewed, and Duffy said he wanted to know what role that played in Levine’s cooperation.
“Now you learn that the government is on to this–isn’t that right?” Duffy asked.
“I don’t believe I focused on that aspect whatsoever in that period of time,” Levine answered. “There were many things on my mind, Mr. Duffy.”
Levine said he eventually decided to cooperate a few months later after his lawyer reviewed with him what the results could mean for him if he were convicted.
“They were terrible,” Levine said of the consequences he faced.
To avoid a long jail term, Levine said, he knew he had to cooperate and be completely honest, but still, Duffy pointed out, Levine was not truthful. He lied despite knowing “the sword of Damocles” would come down on him, Duffy said, and Levine agreed.
“You knew the only way you could hurt yourself in this process was by lying?” Duffy asked.
“Yes, sir,” Levine answered.
Levine lied by not telling the government about his dealings with former Chicago alderman Edward Vrdolyak, a man Levine said he often worked bribes through.
Vrdolyak allegedly was to bring in a $1.5 million kickback from the sale of the Scholl School of Podiatry in Chicago to Rosalind Franklin University, and Levine was supposed to get half of it.
He would like to have seen the money even while he was cooperating, Levine admitted, but he insisted he was not truthful about Vrdolyak because he was trying to keep him out of trouble.”
April 4, 2008; 10:55 a.m.
“More tales of the Purple Hotel kicked off this morning’s session of the Antoin “Tony” Rezko corruption trial.
On Thursday, Rezko’s lawyer Joseph Duffy grilled prosecution star witness Stuart Levine about a $761 transaction on his credit card statement for Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002, at the garish purple-painted Lincolnwood hotel that at the time was part of the Radisson chain. Levine has testified that he and a regular group of “drug buddies” often went to the hotel for daylong binges of crystal meth, cocaine, animal tranquilizers and other drugs.
The significance of that date is that it was the same that Rezko and Levine first met. The occasion was a dinner party, and during the chitchat Levine has said the two men came to realize they had been on opposite sides of a shady real estate deal.
As Duffy tries to chip away at Levine’s credibility, the lawyer used the credit-card statement to suggest that Levine’s memory of that first meeting was suspect because he showed up at the party after leaving a drug binge.
Levine acknowledged that the charge on his credit card was likely legitimate, but repeatedly insisted that he did not remember being at the hotel on that day and considered it unlikely. Credit-card transactions are not always recorded on the same day a charge is actually made.
This morning, Duffy questioned Levine about more charges he incurred at the Radisson. On Saturday, Oct. 26, exactly one week before the dinner party, Levine’s credit-card statement reflected a $1,077 charge at the Radisson, and exactly a week before that there was another $1021 charge there.
Duffy appears to be trying to suggest that Levine had a regular Saturday thing at the Radisson with his drug buddies. In earlier testimony, Levine said the group would get together and party once or twice a month at the Lincolnwood hotel, and always on weekdays. Levine said he tried to hide his secret drug life from his family and wanted to be home and clear-headed on the weekends.”
Tribune trial transcripts:
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