Final Blagojevich co-defendant to stand trial

September 7, 2011

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(AP File/M. Spencer Green)
William Cellini

Prosecutors are getting ready to go to trial against the final co-defendant indicted with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and they're filing documents outlining their evidence against William Cellini as they prepare for his trial scheduled for next month. 

Cellini had contracts with the state of Illinois under Republican governors and prosecutors say he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich to maintain his clout and business under the Democratic administration.

Prosecutors say he used his clout on boards to extort campaign contributions for Blagojevich from people hoping to do business with the state.  And in return for raising cash prosecutors say Cellini was rewarded with lucrative state contracts of his own.

Prosecutors have laid out some of their case against Cellini in the last couple days.  The evidence includes a recorded phone call from 2004 in which Cellini worries that Blagojevich's fundraisers are being too brazen in their attempts to get political contributions in return for state business.  Cellini worries that authorities will start investigating because quote, "too many people are talking."

Attorneys for Cellini did not return calls for comment.

The other co-defendants indicted along with Blagojevich include staffers Lon Monk and John Harris who both pleaded guilty and testified against their former boss.  Chris Kelly was a Blagojevich friend and fundraiser and he committed suicide before going on trial in the case although he was indicted and convicted in other cases.  And then there's Blagojevich's brother Robert.  Prosecutors dropped the charges against him after the first trial because many of the jurors found him a sympathetic character.