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Rezko scrambling to stay out of jail

Rezko scrambling to stay out of jail

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CHICAGO - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's troubled fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, won't be able to post his luxurious suburban mansion as bond after all as he scrambles to stay out of jail.

As it turns out, Rezko doesn't actually own the mansion.

Defense attorney William P. Ziegelmueller came to court Monday and told U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve the actual owner is a land trust. And Rezko's beneficial interest in the land trust has been pledged to MB Financial as collateral for a loan he received, Ziegelmueller said.

Bottom line: Rezko can't use the house to secure his bond.

Rezko, 51, one of Blagojevich's most prominent fundraisers, has pleaded not guilty to charges he plotted to squeeze millions of dollars in kickbacks out of investment firms seeking state business. He also has pleaded not guilty to obtaining a $10.5 million loan from GE Capital through fraud and swindling a group of investors.

Nine properties owned by friends and family and worth an estimated $1.5 million are being posted along with a Rezko home in Lake Geneva, Wis., to secure the real estate and fast-food executive's $2 million bond.

The mansion in suburban Wilmette originally was to be part of the collateral package securing the bond. But it was withdrawn Monday after Ziegelmueller told St. Eve his client has no beneficial interest in the property.

Officials are trying to untangle Rezko's finances and figure out exactly how much money he has.

Prosecutors did not object to taking the mansion out of the bond deal, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher S. Niewoehner told St. Eve the confusion over the home shows there is no time to lose in coming up with a financial statement showing Rezko's assets and liabilities.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.

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