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Ex-employee sues over Rezko loan
Daily Herald staff reports
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Published: 10/19/2008 12:01 AM

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A former employee of Mutual Bank Corp. seeks $4.2 million in damages, claiming he was wrongfully fired after alerting his superiors to concerns involving a loan given to felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

In a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Kenneth J. Conner, a graduate of Benedictine University in Lisle, says his bosses at Mutual Bank in south suburban Harvey terminated him after he spoke up about a missing report regarding a South Side Chicago parcel belonging to Rezko, a fundraiser for Illinois politicians who was convicted in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

Rezko's wife, Rita, in June 2005 closed on purchasing the parcel for $625,000, aided by a $500,000 loan from Mutual, the lawsuit states.

A portion of the property - 10 square feet - was eventually sold in January 2006 to Barack and Michelle Obama.

However, Conner claims when bank officials asked him in either late 2005 or early 2006 to appraise the property, he concluded the parcel was overvalued by at least $125,000. He said his report was included in a file kept by the bank.

The lawsuit then states on Oct. 19, 2006, the bank received a subpoena from a Chicago grand jury asking for that bank file while federal officials investigated Rezko. The lawsuit alleges the file turned over to FBI officials failed to include Conner's report and instead reflected an appraisal dated June 15, 2005, stating the value of the parcel was $625,000. Conner claims when he discovered his report was removed, he went to his bosses who fired him in October 2007, not wanting attention from a high-profile case.

On Saturday the Republican National Committee promoted the story nationally, while an Obama spokesman declined to comment.