Lesson from Rezko: Don't take your case to trial?

November 23, 2011

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(AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Convicted Blagojevich fundraiser and advisor Tony Rezko.

Prosecutors hope Tony Rezko's 10-and-a-half-year prison sentence convinces criminals to cooperate with investigators as soon as they're caught. Rezko didn't start cooperating with prosecutors until after he was convicted, and ultimately his cooperation was of little use.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says unless prosecutors have phone taps and listening devices they need testimony to put cases together, and that's why those who cooperate get such big reductions in their sentences. "There are incentives for people who come forward and cooperate but to do so promptly and fully and without reservation," says Fitzgerald.

Rezko attorney Joe Duffy argued that his client shouldn't be punished for exercising his constitutional right to go to trial. "I understand why the judge wants to send a message and a message should be sent to the community, but the message, I think, and the punishment should go to the public officials who abuse the public trust," says Duffy.

One of those public officials, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, is set to be sentenced in a couple weeks, on December 6th.