Real Estate Agent Testifies to Paying Patti Blagojevich Phony Fees

Real estate agent Sean Conlon just testified that Brian Hynes, a lawyer, lobbyist and onetime Tony Rezko business associate, made an unusual request of him.

Hynes wanted to buy two floors from Conlon's property at 1101 W. Lake Street. But after the contracts were already drawn up, Hynes called and asked that a broker be paid.

Conlon, a real estate agent, Irish immigrant and friend of Patrick Daley, Ald. Edward Burke, among others, testified he never dealt with a broker. He dealt only and directly with Hynes.

The chosen broker: Patti Blagojevich and her River Realty.

Prosecutors have alleged that Rezko arranged for the phony brokerage fee from that sale to get diverted to Patti Blagojevich and she then used the money to pay contractors for renovations to the family's home.

Rod Blagojevich's bombastic lawyer Sam Adam Jr. spars entertainingly with businessman witness Sean Conlon, who is calmly making light of some of Adam's questions.

At one point, Adam showed Conlon the contract selling 1101 W. Lake, 4th floor from Tim Sullivan to Lake and Aberdeen LLC. and showed Tony Rezko listed as a cooperating officer and agent on the contract.

Conlon, born in England to Irish parents, responds with to Adam: "And do I own Lake and Aberdeen LLC?" Conlon asks earnestly.

"Don't you?" Adam asks.

Conlon: "Well I'm sure somebody can figure that one out."

Attorney Sam Adam Jr. pointed out several handwritten changes to contracts for the sale of floors in a building at 1101 W. Lake St., suggesting to witness Sean Conlon that Patti Blagojevich could have been the person handling final alterations on the seller’s side of the deal.

On line 15 of one contract, someone had written in that gas, electric and other utilities were to be hooked up as the deal closed.

“That’s part of the negotiations, true?” Adam said.

The feisty Conlon verbally sparred with Adam at times and answered that there weren’t a lot of changes to the contract. He did agree he didn’t know what kind of arrangement Patti Blagojevich had with the development firm of fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko or his associate, Brian Hynes.

Rod Blagojevich’s defense has begun its cross-examination of witness Sean Conlon, the owner of a real estate company who says Patti Blagojevich was added as a broker, without explanation, to a deal he was part of involving a West Side building.

Conlon testified that after he had arranged to sell two floors of the building to Brian Hynes -- a lawyer and an associate of Antoin “Tony” Rezko -- Hynes called him back and asked that the price be increased so Patti Blagojevich could be written in as a broker. Conlon said he agreed.

“I did because it had no impact on me,” he said.

The cost of one floor in the building went up to $644,000 from $600,000, Conlon said, and a second floor in the development increased in price to $721,000 from $700,000. Hynes said he never had any contact with Patti Blagojevich.

Conlon said Hynes later asked that the contract be altered even further, dropping the name of Patti Blagojevich’s real estate company, River Realty, and adding the name of Rezko’s development firm, Rezmar.