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CHICAGO-Stuart Levine, a major supporter for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has pleaded guilty to fraud in relation to two kickback schemes, including a scam involving a prominent Chicago construction executive and a hospital development. Levine entered his plea in federal court Friday before US District Judge Amy J. St. Eve on Oct. 27. The exact details of the plea deal were not immediately available. Levine’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Levine had told a judge in September that he planned to plead guilty to two counts of extorting kickbacks while serving on Blagojevich-appointed positions on state boards, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors said in the indictments that Levine arranged deals to skim millions of dollars off of deals he voted on with the State Teachers Pension Fund Board and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. Levine admitted in his plea that, as it says in the indictment, he conspired with Jacob Kiferbaum, the former owner of Kiferbaum Construction Co., to a kickback deal regarding a hospital development that he approved as a member of the board.

“In or about late 2003, Levine and Kiferbaum agreed that Levine would use his position as planning board member to attempt to influence the Planning Board to approve Mercy’s application to build a hospital in Crystal Lake so that Kiferbaum Construction Co. could build the planned hospital,” according to an Oct. 5 federal indictment. “In exchange for Levine’s help, Levine and Kiferbaum agreed that Kiferbaum would pay a kickback as directed by Levine.”

Levine also admitted to prosecutor’s claims that his friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a restaurant-chain owner and another major Blagojevich supporter, was involved in the kickback schemes, in his statement to the court. On April 21, 2004, the Planning Board voted to grant the permit to Mercy, says the indictment. “Rezko and Levine took steps to cause other Planning Board members to vote to approve Mercy Hospital’s application, and Levine voted in favor of the application,” according to the indictment. Rezko pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment in the cases earlier this month. His attorney, Joseph J. Duffy, did not return calls for comment.

Levine admitted to the indictment claims that he extorted hospital owners to hire Kiferbaum, a deal where Levine an others would earn kickback money. “Rezko and Levine assisted Mercy Hospital in receiving a CON from the Planning Board for a new hospital in Crystal Lake, Illinois, to be built by Kiferbaum Construction, in exchange for a kickback to be paid by Kiferbaum to Rezko and Levine of approximately $1 million or more,” according to an Oct. 5 Levine indictment. Kiferbaum pleaded guilty to fraud in May 2005 for his role in the schemes.

Soon after his guilty plea, Kiferbaum’s company was renamed KCC Design Group, with Kiferbaum still allegedly at the helm, though he would not return phone calls. A few months later, Kiferbaum’s biographical information was taken off the company website. Kiferbaum is yet to be sentenced, and neither he nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Cook County Commission Board President candidate Tony Peraica, running against Democrat Todd Stroger for the seat, said “another one bites the dust.” Peraica said Rezko has given Stroger thousands of dollars to Stroger’s campaign. “Now that Rezko’s partner in this corrupt scheme has acknowledged his own guilt, it’s going to be hard for Mr. Rezko to defend himself,” Peraica said. Stroger did not return phone calls for comment.

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