Friday, October 27, 2006


Many journalists held their breaths today as they waited to hear how close a federal investigation of state contracting schemes would come to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In a Chicago federal court building this afternoon, one of the governor’s appointees, Stuart Levine, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering.

Levine, a significant GOP fund-raiser, was appointed by former Gov. George Ryan to sit on two regulatory boards, the Teachers Retirement System, which pays the pensions of teachers outside of Chicago, and the Health Facilities Planning Board, which oversees construction projects of hospitals and other medical buildings. He was originally appointed to the planning board during Gov. Jim Edgar’s Administration and was reappointed by Ryan, then Blagojevich.

Levine’s plea agreement lays out details of an intricate scheme described in the indictment of Levine and Antoin “Tony” Rezko, Blagojevich's political advisor (see more on our news page). Levine worked with at least five others in schemes between 2001 and 2004.

The details are many, but, alas, reporters see only a slew of unnamed individuals — A through L and investment firms 1 through 9. By using code names, prosecutors haven’t yet tipped their hands on how close the schemes come to the governor’s inner circle.

Levine has been cooperating with the feds for months, which could reduce his sentence, and he won’t be sentenced until the ongoing investigation concludes.

There are a lot of people involved, and a lot more details will rain down before it’s all over. In short, reporters aren’t the only ones holding their breaths this fall.

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