Cellini lawyers back in court for pre-trial hearing

Corruption trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Chicago

September 29, 2011

Associated Press

(AP/File)
Businessman William Cellini was once dubbed "The Pope" for his enormous influence in Illinois politics.

A federal judge is expected to make pretrial rulings before the last trial stemming from the investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich begins Monday.

The judge in William Cellini's case is set to hear arguments on several motions and rule on them at a Thursday status hearing.

One is a request by government attorneys to bar the defense from telling jurors about their star witness Stuart Levine's admitted drug use.

The defense says Levine's past substance abuse undermines his credibility. But prosecutors say it's irrelevant.

The 76-year-old Cellini is accused of conspiring to shake down the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" for a $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich.

Cellini is a multimillionaire businessman once dubbed "The Pope" for his enormous influence in Illinois politics. He's denied any wrongdoing.