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Tony Rezko and Barack Obama
The “buffer zone” parcel at the Obama family mansion in Chicago’s upscale Kenwood neighborhood purchased by the wife of convicted felon Tony Rezko was transferred to Barack and Michelle Obama without ever being assessed or taxed, in apparent violation of Illinois law, according to a debt-collection expert.
“The Cook County assessor’s office told me that there is no record of any tax assessment having been done on this transfer of the buffer zone property into a Northern Trust Co. Deed in Trust,” Albert Hendershot told WND.
Hendershot, president and owner of Innovative Portfolio Recovery Inc, a debt collection and skip tracing company based in Birmingham, Ala., noted the buffer zone “does not have an address attached to it, which is probably how the assessment and tax were avoided.”
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Hendershot was the previously undisclosed source for the April 20 WND story “Why do 3 supporters own Obama’s home?”
He noted that the records of the Cook County recorder of deeds shows that the buffer zone parcel was deeded by Rita Rezko to Northern Trust No 10209, a real estate investment trust. A trust was created for the Obamas to give them “a measure of privacy,” then-Obama spokesman Bill Burton told the Times of London during the 2008 presidential campaign. Records of the Obama trust established for the mansion have been made public here. However, Northern Trust No. 10209 is actually a bundle of a number of different properties, and the public documents do not explain the legal transfer processes by which the deed for the Obama mansion was bundled into Northern Trust No. 10209.
Exhibit 1: “Buffer zone” deed transfer by Rita Rezko to Northern Trust Co.
WND has confirmed with the assessor’s office that there is no record of a tax assessment on the parcel Rezko sold to the Obamas, and a search of the assessor’s database online using the property’s PIN produces no results, as seen below.
Hendershot explained that the buffer zone added 1,907 square feet to the Obama house lot, creating a total of 12,047 square feet for the lot containing the mansion, which is property identification number, or PIN, 20-11-115-037-0000.
“Even if the transaction were considered absorbing the buffer zone into the larger property that the Obamas bought,” Hendershot said, “that would have constituted two separate transactions for the same parcel – the transfer to the Obamas and the absorption of the buffer into the larger property – without a proper tax assessment being completed on the property in question.”
What is the problem?
“It has the look of real estate and tax fraud,” Henderson answered. “If a property is transferred without a tax assessment being completed and without taxes being paid on the property, my professional background causes me to be suspicious a crime may have been committed.”
Hendershot, who has been studying the Obama mansion purchase for the past six months, explained to WND that the transaction involved a complex multi-layer structure that resulted in multiple PINs being created for the 5046 S. Greenwood property, as recorded in the offices of the Cook County recorder of deeds and the Cook County assessor.
WND previously reported that at least three people are listed as current owners and taxpayers on the Obama mansion: William Miceli, a Tony Rezko attorney and fundraiser who practices law at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, the firm that employed Obama when he did legal work for Rezko; Chicago Probate Judge Jane L. Stuart; and Obama accountant Harvey Wineberg.
In Exhibit 3, Hendershot summarizes the multi-layer transaction his research has tied to the property at 5046 S. Greenwood.
Exhibit 4 details the transfer of the Rita Rezko buffer zone parcel.
Exhibit 3: Analysis of Rita Rezko “buffer zone” parcel to Barack and Michelle Obama
Hendershot’s research report submitted to WND can be read in its entirety here.
When the Obamas bought the mansion in 2005, Rita Rezko purchased the vacant lot adjoining the house, permitting the Obamas to afford the house. Listed at $1.95 million for the house and the vacant lot together, the Obamas purchased the house for $1.65 million, while Rita Rezko bought the vacant lot for $625,000.
Rezko then divided the parcel and in January 2006 sold one-fifth of it to the Obamas for $104,500. In December 2006, when Tony Rezko was indicted, she sold the remaining portion for $575,000, claiming she needed the funds. She netted an estimated $54,500 from the latter sale.
The Chicago Tribune reported land records of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds showed Rita Rezko sold the lot to a company owned by former Tony Rezko business attorney Michael J. Sreenan that planned to develop housing on it.
Records posted by the Internet blog Rezko Watch showed Sreenan made a $2,000 contribution to Obama on June 20, 2003.
Politico.com reported Sreenan made five other contributions totaling $3,500 to Obama on the same days other Rezko associates and employees contributed often matching sums.
Apparently, the Obamas had little reason to fear that Sreenan would actually construct any condos on the lot purchased from Rezko.
According to the Rezko Watch report, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle rejected plans from a prospective buyer who wanted to build a single-family home on the lot adjoining the Obama home, as well as a developer’s plans to build condos there.
Preckwinkle declared that any home built on that land would have to be compatible with the neighborhood’s mansions.
Preckwinkle, Rezko Watch noted, is not only the Democratic committeeman of the 4th Ward, but she is a known Obama supporter.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Rezko was the long-time head of Preckwinkle’s campaign-finance committee.
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