Rezko gavel-to-gavel: Week 2
Check back several times a day for the latest Rezko trial updates from the Tribune's Bob Secter and Jeff Coen at the federal courthouse.
Click here for trial exhibits, video and past stories.
(From left: prosecutor Carrie Hamilton, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, defense attorney Joseph Duffy)
March 14, 2008; 5:13 a.m.
A hospital lobbyist testified at the Tony Rezko corruption trial that he feared the friend and fundraiser of Gov. Rod Blagojevich would turn a hospital regulatory board against his clients. So Jeff Ladd, the lobbyist, got his clients to hire a friend of Rezko's for $80,000 to try to keep Rezko off their backs.
As prosecutors portrayed Rezko as a powerful fixer who controlled the panel from behind the scenes, defense lawyers induced two board members into acknowledging that Rezko had never asked them to vote any particular way on a hospital project before the board.
The defense strategy is shaping up to pin the blame for board manipulation on Stuart Levine, the vice chairman of the panel who Rezko's lawyers contend conned others on the board to do his bidding by implying his marching orders came from Rezko.
The government says Rezko and Levine tried to extort millions from firms seeking state business or regulatory approval, and Levine has pleaded guilty in the case and will testify against Rezko. The trial is in recess until Monday, when Ladd continues his testimony.
For a complete recap of Thursday's trial events, .
Ladd says he suggested clients hire Kelly to sway Rezko
March 13, 2008; 5:05 p.m.
Ladd told the jury late in the afternoon that he eventually recommended that his clients hire Ed Kelly in an attempt to influence Rezko on matters before the health planning board.
Kelly was paid a total of $80,000 by Ladd for his services.
Ladd said he was stunned when his friend Thomas Beck, the board chairman, called him the night before the April 2004 vote on the proposed new hospital in Crystal Lake.
Beck told him the proposal by Mercy Hospital would pass the next day, Ladd testified. Ladd represented Centegra Health Systems, which opposed the Mercy proposal.
Ladd said he immediately called Kelly "to ask him if he'd had any conversation with Mr. Rezko."
Kelly said he hadn't, Ladd said. Ladd testified that he asked Kelly to call Rezko and find out what was going on.
Kelly didn't reach Rezko until the next day, just before the vote, Ladd said. But Amy St. Eve, the judge presiding over the trial, barred Ladd from going into the substance of the conversation between Kelly and Rezko. But based on the substance of that conversation, Ladd said, his clients chose to continue to employ Kelly.
Near the end of the trial day, Ladd was cross-examined by Rezko's lawyer, Joseph Duffy, who asked him if he was familiar with the term "lobbyist."
"With a capital 'L' or a small 'L'?" answered Ladd, drawing chuckles in the courtroom.
Ladd acknowledged he had been a registered lobbyist -- the capital 'L' kind -- and someone like Ed Kelly might be the small 'L.'