, CHICAGO, Nov 23 – A former fundraiser for President Barack Obama was sentenced to 10 and a half years in jail on Tuesday for extorting millions of dollars from firms seeking help from former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Obama has never been implicated in the corruption scandals which have roiled his adopted home state of Illinois in recent years.
However, his Republican foes have tried to exploit his ties to influence peddler Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was convicted of using his political clout to demand kickbacks in June 2008 – just a day after Obama clinched enough delegates to be the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.
Obama’s transition to power was also marred by the December 2008 arrest of Blagojevich, who was kicked out of office and eventually convicted of trying to auction off Obama’s vacated US senate seat and a host of other corruption charges.
Rezko opted to begin serving his time after his June 2008 conviction even though his sentencing was delayed in case prosecutors needed to call him as a witness in trials connected to the corrupt Blagojevich administration.
He will be given credit for the four and a half years he has already served on 16 counts that included fraud, bribery and money laundering.
Blagojevich is set to be sentenced on December 6.