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Jury Finds Cellini Guilty

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 1, 2011 7:53PM

Springfield power broker William Cellini was convicted today on conspiracy to commit extortion and abetting bribery.

Cellini was found not guilty of attempted extortion and mail and wire fraud. Through over four decades in Illinois politics, Cellini wheeled and dealed behind the scenes and wielded the type of power that demanded politicians speak with him. His career in state politics began when he was appointed Director of Public Works and Buildings for Illinois in 1969. In 1972 he was unanimously confirmed as the first secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, a post he held until 1974, when he went into the private sector.

The charges against Cellini stem from an attempt to shake down investment firm owner Thomas Rosenberg, one of the producers of Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, for a campaign contribution for then Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Cellini's attorney, Dan Webb, said he plans on appealing the guilty verdicts.

With Cellini's trial over, maybe now Judge James Zagel can focus on sentencing Blagojevich. Zagel postponed Blagojevich's sentencing hearing while the Cellini trial was in progress, being the presiding judge in both.