Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"Personal debauchery" at the Purple Hotel

A grand old partyer shatters stereotype

Levine airs his own dirty laundry in preemptive strike

April 1, 2008

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at a Republican the same way again. Nerdy, button-down North Shore lawyer Stuart Levine made sure of that Monday, proving again that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Levine, the key prosecution witness in the Tony Rezko trial and one of the state's most prolific GOP donors, gave a federal jury the most thorough account yet of his secret penchant for drug-fueled parties with an intimate group of male friends.

Defense lawyers for Rezko contend it was Levine's determination to keep his "secret life" from being exposed that caused him to plead guilty and cooperate with federal investigators against Rezko, inventing lies in the process.

To make that theory work, the defense has sought permission to explore the sexual aspect of the parties, not just the drugs, but U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve has ruled that subject off limits. It's OK to probe Levine's drug use, she says, because of the possibility it has affected his memory.


Click here for Brown's entire Chicago Sun-Times column

Levine describes closing on scheme

Over dinner and drinks, witness says, Rezko sold on $3.9 million windfall

On the stand for a fifth day, Levine picked up where he left off before the trial took a weeklong spring break, describing more tawdry tales of both treachery and personal debauchery that moved from the refined atmosphere of the Standard Club to frequent drug binges at "The Purple Hotel" in Lincolnwood.

Trying to beat Duffy to the punch Monday, prosecutors walked Levine through decades of drug abuse, which included everything from LSD to cocaine, crystal meth and even an animal tranquilizer known as ketamine.

Levine estimated he spent $1 million between 2000 and 2004 on drug parties. Sometimes, he said, he would fly to Springfield to snort away with friends at all-night hotel parties. More often, he said, he would meet with a regular group of five male friends at the garishly painted "Purple Hotel" in Lincolnwood, once part of the Hyatt chain and the scene of a grisly 1983 gangland slaying.

Levine said he was careful to hide his drug use from his family and business associates, but Rezko's lawyers hope to convince jurors that Levine's memory was impaired by all the illegal substances he ingested.

Click here for entire Chicago Tribune story

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