Dull first day of testimony at Cellini trial

October 7, 2011

Download Story
(AP/M. Spencer Green, File)
William Cellini

The first day of testimony was crushingly boring for jurors hearing the case against Rod Blagojevich co-defendant William Cellini Thursday. Jurors had to wade through a long list of unknown political insiders and hear about the internal workings of an obscure state board. Prosecutors spent the day focused on TRS, the Teachers Retirement System. They called former TRS employees to the stand to talk about the agency that handles retirement benefits for teachers, including details about how the 11 member board is chosen.  It's tedious listening, but prosecutors are laying the groundwork to show how Cellini allegedly used TRS business to extort a campaign contribution for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors also called Marvin Traylor to the stand. Traylor worked for Cellini at the Illinois Asphalt Paving Association for 25 years and testified Cellini was tight with several Republican governors. But he also called Cellini a great boss and a wise man. Traylor says he makes twice as much as Cellini even though Cellini is the boss, and he said that Cellini kept an elderly secretary on the payroll even though she'd been in a bad car accident and hadn't been able to work for a year.