Obama’s Chicago mansion
NEW YORK – While prosecutors are making no allegations against Barack Obama in the massive criminal complaint unsealed yesterday against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a separate civil case in Chicago asserts the president-elect benefited from a shady land deal orchestrated by convicted felon Antonin “Tony” Rezko.
WND obtained a copy of the civil complaint filed in October with the Illinois Circuit Court in Cook County by former real estate credit analyst Kenneth J. Conner.
Conner alleges he was fired by his former employer, Mutual Bank of Harvey, Ill., because he objected to land appraisals submitted on behalf of the Rezkos and the Obamas, with the complicity of the bank.
Rezko, who was convicted of corruption charges earlier this year that implicated Blagojevich, reportedly cooperated with federal prosecutors in the case against the Illinois governor. As a major fundraiser, Rezko helped launch the political careers of both Obama and Blagojevich.
In 2005, Obama admitted to the Washington Post the property deal he made while Rezko already was under federal investigation was a “bonehead mistake.”
The transaction involved Obama purchasing a multi-million-dollar home in Chicago’s trendy Kenwood neighborhood, across the street from the Rezkos, at a discounted price. On the same day, Rezko’s wife purchased a strip of land adjacent to the Obamas for the full asking price then sold it to the Obamas for $300,000 less.
Obama and top fundraiser Tony Rezko
Mutual Bank had lent Rezko millions of dollars in various real estate transactions over many years.
“‘I wouldn’t have filed this case without doing as much due diligence as possible, including contacting Mutual Bank,” Conner’s attorney Glenn R. Gaffney told WND. “I believe my client was wrongfully fired by Mutual Bank for objecting to the appraisals involved in the Rezko-Obama transaction.”
Gaffney asserted Obama’s own appraisal contradicts the argument that Rezko paid fair value in the transaction.
“This confirms Conner was right in arguing the bank’s appraisal obtained to facilitate the Rezko loan appears substantially overstated,” Gaffney said.
The attorney told WND his client had contacted the FBI and submitted relevant documents before he was retained as legal counsel to pursue the wrongful-dismissal case.
WND has confirmed with the clerk of the Cook County Clerk of Courts that Conner has requested a 12-person jury trial, and the case, docketed as 2008#L011470, has been assigned to Judge Charles Winkler.
Conner’s complaint establishes that in June 2005, Mutual Bank President and CEO Amrish Mahajan and other Mutual Bank officers “approved a loan to Rita Malki Rezko which was guaranteed by Antonin Rezko so that Rita Rezko could purchase a 9,090 square foot vacant parcel of the real estate at 5050 Greenwood Avenue, Chicago.”
The complaint also confirms as undisputed fact, “On or about January 4, 2006, Rita Rezko entered into an agreement with Senator Barack and Michelle Obama to sell a ten-foot strip of the S. Greenwood property to the Obamas.”
Conner’s complaint charges that Mutual Bank removed from the file an inconvenient appraisal he conducted.
Connrr contends fraudulent appraisals were submitted to permit the Rezkos and the Obamas to collude with one another on both the initial purchase of the double-lot property and the subsequent sale of the vacant 10-foot sliver of land.
Conner’s complaint argues the initial fraudulent appraisal over-valued the property to permit the bank to loan the Rezkos the maximum possible to complete their side of the transaction.
Conner’s complaint then argues Mutual Bank subsequently discounted the initial appraisal by as much 50 percent – arguing the 10-percent strip was unbuildable alone – to arrive at a price low enough for the Obamas to afford buying enough of the vacant lot to effectively prevent future development.
The doctor who owned the double-lot property wanted to sell the vacant lot and the house at the same time, even though the two properties were separately listed.
The list price for the home was $1.95 million, outside the reach of the Obama family, until Rezko came up with the idea that his wife would simultaneously purchase the vacant lot portion of the project.
The deal concluded with the Obamas buying the house for $1.65 million, at a discount of $300,000 from the initial asking price, while Rezko’s wife closed on the vacant lot on the same day for the full asking price of $625,000, of which she borrowed the maximum allowable 80 percent from Mutual Bank.
Conner alleges his appraisal was removed from the Mutual Bank file and he was fired from the bank “‘under pretextual reasons”‘ after complaining about what he considered the problems with the appraisals used by the Rezkos and the bank to complete the Obama property transaction.
The FBI, through a federal grand jury, subpoenaed the Conner file in October 2006, according to the Washington Times.