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New mystery: Feds planned to link Obama-Rezko but backed off

June 29, 2008 |  1:38 am

Federal prosecutors planning their case against Illinois political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko intended to invoke the name of his onetime associate, Sen. Barack Obama, often during the recently concluded two-month prosecution in Chicago.

Rezko was convicteAntoin Tony Rezko Illinois political fundraiser and early political mentor of Senator Barack Obama the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee was recently convicted on federal corruption charges in Chicagod on federal corruption charges.

The onetime political mentor and fundraiser for Obama, especially in the early days of his Illinois political career, arranged for a series of so-called straw political contributions to Obama, money from Rezko channeled through other people's names. Obama has since donated an equal sum to charities.

According to published reports in the Chicago Sun-Times, recently unsealed documents show prosecutors intended to call several witnesses who would tie Rezko to Obama. The federal judge ruled that they could.

"Witnesses will testify that Rezko was a long-standing supporter and fund-raiser of Barack Obama," one prosecutor wrote in their planning notes. But for unexplained reasons, they ended up not calling those witnesses.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press