Blagojevich apointee sentenced to probation for his role in corruption

July 17, 2012

Robert Wildeboer

Ali Ata, the former executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, leaves federal court in Chicago.

A former official in the Blagojevich administration will not be going to prison for his role in corruption under the former Illinois governor.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Ali Ata to head the Illinois Finance Authority, but only after Ata made two $25,000 contributions to the governor, buying the appointment.

Ata pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and lying on his income taxes in 2002. The sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 12 to 18 months, but prosecutors asked federal Judge James Zagel to give him even less than that. They say he was a key witness in the conviction of Tony Rezko, a corrupt fundraiser and advisor to Blagojevich.

Ata’s attorney told Zagel that Ata worked as a chemical engineer at a Naperville company for 25 years but was encouraged to retire in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In sentencing Ata to probation, Zagel said that seemingly wrongful dismissal may have been a significant factor in Ata’s decision to depart from an otherwise useful and honorable career.