US prosecutors to corrupt: Wake up, work with us

By KAREN HAWKINS | November 23, 2011 | 3:55 PM EST

FILE - In this June 4, 2008 file photo, former top fundraiser for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Antoin "Tony" Rezko returns to the federal courthouse for the reading of the jury's verdict in his corruption trial in Chicago. A federal judge today sentenced Rezko to serve seven more years in prison on top of the 31/2 years he has already served while awaiting sentencing Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. prosecutors say the harsh 10 ½ -year prison sentence handed to a former fundraiser for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich should send a message about public corruption.

The message is don't do it. But if you do, you'll get no mercy unless you tell the truth and cooperate with authorities — the sooner the better.

Prosecutors say Tony Rezko learned that lesson too late.

Meanwhile, several other defendants with related corruption cases have told all and will likely get lighter sentences.

Blagojevich is among those awaiting sentencing.

The difference in how much time defendants get will likely depend not only on their level of culpability and the seriousness of their crimes, but on how early — and often — they cooperated with the government.