(MCT) — An imprisoned top adviser and fundraiser for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich admitted to conduct that could have brought about federal scrutiny, but he disputed the charges a federal jury convicted him of in 2008.
"I have done things I could have been indicted on, but I was never indicted on," Antoin "Tony" Rezko told WLS-TV in part of a recorded telephone interview that first aired Wednesday.
"But what I was indicted on and what I was convicted of, I did not commit," he said in his first public comments since a December 2011 court appearance.
In November, Rezko was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in federal prison after he was convicted of corruption charges. A jury convicted him in 2008 of using his clout with Blagojevich and scheming with Stuart Levine, a longtime Republican political insider, to extort millions of dollars from firms that were seeking state business or regulatory approval.
In the interview, Rezko said the former governor knew of his schemes to exchange political appointments in exchange for cash.
"Did I do fundraising for board appointment? Yes I did. Did I participate in it? Sure I did. Was he (Blagojevich) aware of it? Sure he was," he said.
Rezko also said Levine was thoroughly dishonest and fabricated his trial testimony about Rezko's schemes.
"Had I known (Levine) was on the take and he was taking kickbacks and has been taking kickbacks, I wouldn't have met with him to start with," Rezko said.
In October 2010, Rezko, an immigrant with an American rags-to-riches story to his credit, pleaded guilty to a separate federal fraud charge over the bogus sale of his pizza restaurants.
Rezko made a name for himself as a powerful insider and fundraiser, earning a position as one of Blagojevich's top advisers and confidants from early in his administration.
Over the years, Rezko raised money for scores of local politicians, including Mayor Harold Washington and President Barack Obama.
“It's something I enjoyed, and once I believed in the candidate, I went all out for him or her," Rezko said.
During the interview, Rezko, who is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Facility in Pekin, Ill., showed remorse for how his court case affected his family.
"I feel bad more for my family that they have to suffer almost more than I do for what I have been through," he said.