Corruption Trial of Alleged Blagojevich Fundraiser William Celli - FOX 32 News Chicago

Corruption Trial of Alleged Blagojevich Fundraiser William Cellini Begins


The trial of downstate multi-millionaire William Cellini, who was known as The Pope, began Monday. Cellini is charged with trying to shake down a movie producer to help former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors say William Cellini conspired with Tony Rezko and two other men to get money from Hollywood producer Thomas Rosenberg.

They allegedly told Rosenberg he needed to donate $1.5 million to the Blagojevich campaign if Rosenberg wanted teacher retirement pension funds steered to his investment firm.

Cellini earned the nickname The Pope because of his behind the scenes influence in Illinois state politics.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel questioned eight jurors on Monday. Jury selection will continue on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Zagel is also the judge in the Blagojevich trial. Blagojevich was scheduled to be sentenced this week, but his sentencing was delayed indefinitely as Zagel presides over the Cellini trial.

Rezko's sentencing has also been delayed from Oct. 21 to Nov. 22 so his proceedings don't interfere with the trial, though Zagel is not the judge in Rezko's case.

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