Rezko associate gets nearly 5 years in prison

SHARE Rezko associate gets nearly 5 years in prison
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Alber Najjar, also known as Alber Yakoub, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of filing a false tax return. | File photo

Sun-Times file

An associate of the convicted one-time political power broker Tony Rezko was sentenced to 57 months in prison Thursday for dodging more than $1 million in income taxes.

Alber Najjar, also known as Alber Yakoub, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of filing a false tax return. A federal grand jury indicted the former Winnetka resident in 2004. But shortly before that, Najjar fled to Lebanon and spent more than 11 years as a fugitive, prosecutors say. He was arrested in Cyprus last November and extradited to the United States.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman handed down the sentence Thursday.

Federal prosecutors say Najjar, 62, failed to pay taxes on $2.56 million he made off a gambling operation in Illinois and Indiana from 1997 to 2002. Though he filed a federal tax return every year, he didn’t report the gambling money he’d made.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick King wrote that not only did Najjar eventually move his operation offshore, but he used offshore proceeds to write Rezko a $300,000 check to invest in one of his companies. In a three-year period, Najjar allegedly invested about $2.5 million in Rezko’s ventures.

Najjar also purchased a $2.8 million home in Winnetka and spent $140,560 on a Toyota 4Runner, a Mercedes C230 and a Mercedes S500.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said Najjar has not told them how “aside from illegal activity, the defendant made a living at any time including during the time in which he was a fugitive,” King wrote.

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