Monday, November 03, 2008

Whistleblower Questioned By FBI About Obama-Rezko Land Deal

A former real estate appraiser for Mutual Bank says he has been questioned by FBI officials about his knowledge of a land deal between Sen. Barack Obama and Rita Rezko, wife of convicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Kenneth J. Conner claims in a lawsuit filed in Cook Co. Circuit Court that he was fired by Mutual Bank after complaining that an appraisal he prepared for a lot Rita Rezko purchased for $625,000 at the same time Obama purchased his South Side mansion on a neighboring lot was withheld by the bank from the file subpoenaed by a federal grand jury. Conner says, according to his appraisal, the lot was worth no more than $500,000. He claims the bank removed his lower appraisal from the file turned over to federal investigators. The owner of the lot sold Obama the neighboring home for $300,000 below the asking price at the same time Rezko purchased the adjoining lot at an inflated price. Rezko improved the vacant lot with a privacy fence and then sold the portion of the lot abutting Obama's lot to Obama for $105,000. In a press release, Conner said:

Today, Conner confirms speculation that FBI agents have discussed Barack Obama and Tony Rezko with him. Tony Rezko is the husband of Rita Rezko and Guarantor of the Mutual Bank 5050 S. Greenwood loan. Rita Rezko sold a strip of the land to Barack Obama, and the remainder has sold since then. Mutual Bank has no known further involvement.

Conner and FBI agents discussed whether the Rezko purchase may have enabled Barack Obama to purchase an adjacent mansion for $300,000 less than asking price. Conner attributed no less than $125,000 of the $300,000 to an implied supplement created by the Rezko purchase at $125,000 above Conner's assessment of supportable value.

Conner told FBI agents that the seller is not thought by him, nor anyone else he is aware of, to have done anything improper. It is otherwise noteworthy that Rezko and Obama bought their properties on the same day and from the same seller. Under such a scenario, an overpayment by one buyer offsets equivalent underpayment by another.

Conner's press release notes that documents made public by the Obama campaign concerning his home purchase omitted a critical appraisal document for the home. "To the extent that the residence is accurately appraised at approximately $1,775,000 -- derived by adding the aforementioned $125,000 to $1,650,000 paid by Obama for the mansion -- the appropriateness of Conner's appraisal review findings may be further evidenced as his case litigates," the press release states.

This story has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. The Washington Times reported on Conner's whistle blower lawsuit, while the Chicago media ignored it. The Washington Times has another story on this new development. Conner told the paper, "Agents and I talked about payoff, bribe, kickback for a long time, though it took them only a short number of minutes of talking with me while looking at the appraisal to acknowledge what they already seemed to know: The Rezko lot was grossly overvalued.” “Rezko paid the asking price on the same day Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price to the same seller for his adjacent mansion,” he said. “This begs the question of payoff, bribe, kickback.”

When this campaign is finally over tomorrow, only then will discussions begin as to why these issues have not been more closely vetted by the mainstream media. Obama has known Rezko since his college days. Rezko raised more than $250,000 for his political campaigns, and Obama helped Rezko win tens of millions in state housing grants in Chicago. Rezko was convicted on multiple felony counts earlier this summer in connection with the Operation Board Games investigation involving various pay-to-play schemes within the administration of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoyevich. Earlier this year, Rezko pleaded in a letter to the judge presiding over his trial that federal investigators were trying to coerce him into saying bad things about Blagoyevich and Obama. In recent weeks, Chicago news media reports confirm that Rezko is now cooperating with federal investigators.

No comments: