Around the Nation

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sentencing Postponed For Fundraiser Rezko

CHICAGO -- A federal judge canceled convicted fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko's sentencing date Wednesday, and one of Rezko's 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 Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) 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 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.

Conviction in 'Precious Doe' Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- A man has been convicted in Missouri of killing a 3-year-old girl who became known as "Precious Doe" after her decapitated body was found in 2001. A jury convicted 29-year-old Harrell Johnson of first-degree murder in the death of Erica Green.

Yosemite Rockfall Injures Three

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- Chunks of granite crashed to the Yosemite Valley floor in a cloud of dust, injuring at least three people and destroying several cabins and trees at one of the park's most popular lodging areas, officials said. The rock slide was the second in two days in Curry Village, a lodging and retail area defined by dramatic, sheer cliffs.

Gun Settlement in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS-- City officials have agreed to return hundreds of firearms that police confiscated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, part of a deal to resolve a lawsuit filed by gun lobbying groups. The settlement agreement filed Tuesday in federal court calls for the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation to drop their case if the city follows a plan for returning guns to owners whose weapons were seized after the 2005 hurricane.

New Schools Urged in Chicago

CHICAGO -- Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan recommended that the school board approve plans for 20 new schools, including the district's first high school aimed at gay and transgender teenagers. The schools are expected to open in the fall of 2009 and 2010. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote Oct. 22.

-- From News Services

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