U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
Since arresting Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has renewed interest in convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko’s part in the purchase of Barack Obama’s Chicago mansion, according to a former real estate analyst who says he was interviewed by the federal prosecutor in the past 10 days.
Kenneth J. Conner told WND he was interviewed by investigators from Fitzgerald’s office regarding the purchase of the Obama mansion and the adjacent vacant lot that Rezko’s wife, Rita, purchased simultaneously.
As WND reported last week, Conner filed a civil complaint in October with the Illinois Circuit Court in Cook County alleging he was fired by 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.
Conner previously confirmed to WND that he told the FBI, months ago, when he initially was fired, that the bank and the Rezkos were engaged in “fraud, bribes or kickbacks, use whatever term you want,” to benefit the Obamas.
Conner said his lawyer, Glenn R. Gaffney, also has been interviewed by the FBI about the Rezko-Obama deal within the past 10 days.
Conner has disclosed that during the initial investigation he met with two FBI agents for approximately an hour and a half to discuss the Rezko-Obama home purchase.
“The entire deal amounted to a $125,000 payoff from Tony Rezko to Barack Obama,” Conner previously told WND.
He explained: “If in fact the entire deal was a payoff from Tony Rezko to Barack Obama, a payoff or kickback, use whatever word you like, then for the deal to work, what had to happen was that Rezko had to over-pay for the vacant lot by as much as possible, or by the desired amount of the payoff, in any event.”
Conner charges in his complaint that in June 2005, Mutual Bank president and CEO Amrish Mahajan and other Mutual Bank officers approved a loan to Rita Malki Rezko that was guaranteed by Tony Rezko so his wife could purchase a 9,090 square foot vacant parcel of real estate at 5050 S. Greenwood Avenue, Chicago.
As part of the loan underwriting process, Mutual Bank obtained a real estate appraisal from Adams Valuation Corporation that valued the vacant lot at $68.76 per square foot, allowing the bank to establish a $625,000 value for the vacant lot, on which the bank lent $500,000.
Conner claims his analysis, as well as an independent appraisal by Howard B. Richter, a member of the Appraisal Institute, valued the entire 9090 square foot parcel at $54 per square foot or $490,860, establishing the $125,000 difference between the appraisal the Rezkos and the bank used and the appraisal Conner considered “fair market value.”
Rezko closed on the purchase of the adjacent lot at a price of $625,000 along with the loan from Mutual Bank in the amount of $500,000, with Mutual Bank obtaining a first mortgage lien position on the Greenwood vacant parcel, according Connor’s civil complaint, filed with the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
Conner’s complaint charges Mutual Bank removed from the file an inconvenient appraisal he conducted of fraudulent appraisals submitted to permit the Rezkos and the Obamas to conclude working in collusion with one another.
The 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.
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 $500,000, the a 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 dream property transaction.