William Cellini Found Guilty of Extortion - FOX 32 News Chicago

William Cellini Found Guilty of Extortion


Jurors in the corruption trial of William Cellini found him guilty on two of four counts Tuesday, including extortion charges.

Cellini was charged with extortion for shaking down a Hollywood producer for a donation to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The jury convicted Cellini, a Springfield powerbroker who for decades pulled the strings in state government, guilty Tuesday of extortion and aiding and abetting bribery. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud or attempted extortion.

Cellini was convicted of delivering a message to Hollywood producer Tom Rosenberg that he wouldn’t get funds from the Illinois Teachers Retirement System for his investment fund without a donation to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

A straight-faced Cellini tapped his folded hands at the edge of the defense table as the verdict was read, otherwise showing little emotion. On a spectator's bench nearby, his daughter's lips quivered. Cellini did not speak as he left the courthouse.

The jury panel had been deliberating for its third day Tuesday after the judge on the case replaced a juror for a conflict last Thursday. Jurors started deliberations over with an alternate at that time.

Cellini’s trial lasted three weeks and featured testimony from Blagojevich trial witness Stuart Levine and Rosenberg, the man at the center of the shake down scheme.

Cellini had denied any wrongdoing.

"We obviously are going to appeal, and based upon our assessment of the case, we are confident that we have a substantial chance of getting the case reversed on appeal," said attorney Dan Webb.

Cellini’s trial is the last of the cases stemming from the federal investigation into Blagojevich, who's sentencing on a federal corruption conviction was delayed for the duration of the Cellini trial.

Prosecutors said they hope the verdict sends a message to politicians and political cronies who try to game the system.

"We're hoping that after seeing Operation Board Games, which has seen convictions of Tony Rezko, Ed Vrdolyak, Bill Cellini, Governor Blagojevich, and many others, one would hope that that has to have an effect, but I'm not going to quantify it or make predictions other than that we will keep looking," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

The Associated Press and Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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