A Chicago-area businessman whose association with President Obama came under scrutiny during the 2008 presidential campaign has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for corruption charges related to kickback schemes.
Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who raised funds for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and Obama when he was an Illinois senator, was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison Tuesday for a money kickback scheme he was convicted of in 2008.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rezko was sentenced by a federal judge for trying to make $7 million in kickbacks from companies trying to do business with Blagojevich.
Prosecutors had been hoping for a total sentencing of 11-15 years, according to The Associated Press.
"That’s about as bad as it can get in a political corruption case," Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner said according to the Sun-Times. "Illinois was for sale at the very top levels of our government."
Rezko voluntarily went to prison in 2008 when he was found guilty on 16 of 24 counts of corruption charges related to money laundering and plotting to skim money from companies trying to do business with Blagojevich.
Rezko's association with Obama became an issue during his run for the White House. Then-Sen. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE (D-N.Y.), Obama's top rival in that race, accused Obama of "practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago."
Obama, then a lawyer at a small civil-rights firm, had been working for a church organization that was partnering with him. He denied any direct connection to Rezko.
"I did about five hours worth of work on this joint project," Obama said at the time.
Obama also considered and eventually bought a house in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood with the help of Rezko, who helped seal the deal by buying a nearby lot, according to ABC News.