Cellini sentenced to a year in federal prison
CHICAGO – Illinois political insider William Cellini was sentenced Thursday to a year in federal prison, making him the latest person in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s circle to be sentenced on federal corruption-related charges from the “Operation Board Games” probe.
Cellini, a powerful Springfield multimillionaire known as the “King of Clout” and “the Pope,” was accused of trying to shake down Hollywood producer Thomas Rosenberg for campaign contributions for Blagojevich in exchange for state contracts to invest money for the Teachers Retirement System.
Federal prosecutors sought six and a half years to eight years in prison, while Cellini’s attorneys requested probation for their 77-year-old client, who has been in poor health. Hundreds of supporters wrote letters on Cellini’s behalf asking federal Judge James Zagel for leniency.
Zagel sentenced Cellini to 366 days in prison and a $75,000 fine. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Cellini may serve only about 10 months in prison.
Cellini was caught on wiretaps in 2004 participating in a plot to get $1.5 million from Rosenberg, the Oscar-winning producer of the movie “Million Dollar Baby,” an investment firm owner and a friend of Cellini, in exchange for state contracts. Rosenberg refused and threatened to notify authorities.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges, including trying to sell or trade an appointment for President Barack Obama’s former seat in the U.S. Senate. Obama is not accused of any wrongdoing.
In all, 15 men, including Stuart Levine, Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly, were indicted as part of the federal investigation. Kelly committed suicide in 2009. Rezko and Levin received prison sentences.
Contact Jayette Bolinski at email@example.com.
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