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Ex-Gore Fundraiser Gets Probation in Chicago Kickback Case

Joseph Cari, the finance chief for Al Gore’s 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, was sentenced to three years’ probation for his role in a political corruption scheme that led to the convictions of ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve imposed the sentence, which includes nine months’ home confinement and a $50,000 fine, during a hearing today at the federal courthouse in Chicago.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Cari said, adding he’ll “live with shame and pain for the rest of my life.”

Cari in 2005 pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted extortion. Testifying against Rezko in 2008, he told a jury he’d aided a plot to demand a $750,000 kickback from a private equity firm, JER Partners, which sought $80 million in investment capital from the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.

Cari, a lawyer and then-director at Healthpoint Capital Partners in New York, admitted to making threatening phone calls to the McLean, Virginia-based firm.

“You should have known better than to go down this path,” St. Eve said before imposing his punishment. Cari had been on supervised release since pleading guilty six years ago. Prosecutors had asked her for a two-year prison sentence.

Personal Favors

Rezko, who raised money for Blagojevich and for President Barack Obama, in 2008 was found guilty of taking part in a scheme to get kickbacks in exchange for influencing the awarding of Illinois state business. He has not yet been sentenced.

A Chicago federal court jury in June found Blagojevich guilty of trying to trade official acts, including the appointment of a U.S. senator to replace Obama, for campaign contributions and personal favors.

His sentencing is set for Oct. 6.

Cari testified against Blagojevich in a trial last year that ended with the ex-governor’s conviction for lying to federal agents. Jurors were unable to agree on 23 remaining counts.

Obama, Gore and Blagojevich are all Democrats.

The case is U.S. v. Cari, 05cr691, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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