WBEZ | William Cellini http://www.wbez.org/tags/william-cellini Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ryan, Cellini likely to meet in Indiana prison http://www.wbez.org/news/ryan-cellini-likely-meet-indiana-prison-105094 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3030_AP060417021403-ryan Charles Rex Arbogast-scr_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One&#39;s on his way in and the other&#39;s on his way out.</p><p>Newly imprisoned Springfield businessman William Cellini and long imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan are likely to meet in coming days at a Terre Haute, Ind., penitentiary.</p><p>Cellini reported there Tuesday to start a year-long sentence for corruption. Ryan has nearly finished a 6 1/2-year corruption sentence.</p><p>Bureau of Prison&#39;s spokesman Chris Burke says no rules would bar them meeting and that they&#39;re likely to.</p><p>For decades, Cellini was a clout-heavy businessman known as the &quot;King of Clout.&quot; Onetime Ryan aide Scott Fawell says Ryan and Cellini are friends and that Cellini raised campaign money for Ryan.</p><p>They have more in common than being in the same prison. Both are Republicans and both are 78-years-old.</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 08:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ryan-cellini-likely-meet-indiana-prison-105094 Ex-Illinois powerbroker 'King of Clout' reports to Indiana prison http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-illinois-powerbroker-king-clout-reports-indiana-prison-105079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS4490_P1030967-scr(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A man once known as the King of Clout for the enormous behind-the-scene influence he yielded in Illinois politics reported to prison Tuesday to start a yearlong sentence for trying to extort a Hollywood movie producer.</p><p>William Cellini reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Ind., around 1 p.m. local time, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said. It&#39;s the same prison where former Illinois Gov. George Ryan is completing a 6 1/2 -year corruption sentence.</p><p>Cellini, 78, will stay in the minimum-security section of the facility.</p><p>Jurors convicted the multimillionaire Springfield businessman in 2011 of trying to shake down Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million political contribution that was intended for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich&#39;s campaign. Rosenberg is the Oscar-winning producer of &quot;Million Dollar Baby.&quot;</p><p>Cellini, a longtime Republican, joins an ignominious list of prominent Illinois residents imprisoned for corruption.</p><p>Blagojevich, a Democrat, is serving a 14-year sentence for multiple corruption counts in a Colorado prison. Ryan, Blagojevich&#39;s Republican predecessor, is wrapping up his sentence.</p><p>Cellini had asked to go to a prison in Montgomery, Ala., in part because it was thought to have good medical facilities to deal with his illnesses, including heart ailments. It wasn&#39;t immediately clear why Cellini was assigned to the prison in Indiana.</p><p>Cellini was initially supposed to report to prison on Jan. 4 but was granted a two-week extension.</p><p>Hoping to get his sentence over with, Cellini in November withdrew his request to remain free pending appeal of his corruption conviction. A one-page filing withdrawing the request cited the stress the case put on his family and Cellini&#39;s health.</p></p> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 13:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-illinois-powerbroker-king-clout-reports-indiana-prison-105079 Judge set to rule on Cellini re-trial http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-set-rule-cellini-re-trial-95764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/William Cellini (AP PhotoM. Spencer Green, File).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal judge is set to rule late Tuesday afternoon on whether convicted power broker William Cellini will get a new trial. Cellini's case was supposed to be the last trial directly related to the decade-long investigation of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.</p><p>Late last year Cellini was convicted of corruption. But Cellini's lawyers requested a new trial on the grounds one juror lied about her criminal record during the jury selection process. The Chicago juror, Candy Chiles, didn't disclose past convictions for drug possession and a DUI.</p><p>Cellini's lawyers say that created a built-in bias.</p><p>But prosecutors say even if she lied intentionally, there's no proof she had any bias against Cellini or did a poor job as a juror.</p><p>Judge James Zagel is asking for evidence that the juror's behavior directly affected the outcome of the trial.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 24 Jan 2012 12:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-set-rule-cellini-re-trial-95764 Cellini juror blows up at defense lawyer in Chicago courtroom http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-juror-blows-defense-lawyer-chicago-courtroom-95361 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090416_rwildeboer_155262_Cell_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>There was drama in a federal court in Chicago Friday over whether to throw out the recent conviction of political heavyweight William Cellini.</p><p>That jury that convicted Cellini included Candy Chiles, a Chicago woman who didn't tell to the court about past convictions for drug possession and DUI. Cellini's attorney, Dan Webb, said Chiles lied in an effort to get on the jury, and he wants the conviction reversed.</p><p>In Friday's hearing, Chiles gave varying explanations for her mis-statements, including "I don't know" and "I was confused. Nervous. Confused and nervous."</p><p>Asked specifically why she didn't disclose the drug conviction, from 1999, during jury selection, Chiles said, "It's in my past. I never mention it at all."</p><p>Chiles was instantly unsettled by questions from Cellini's attorney, repeatedly accusing him of treating her like a criminal.</p><p>"What's this all about?" she loudly asked Webb. "So you can get [Cellini] off? Leave me alone. I'm tired of you."</p><p>"I sat here for 5 weeks [during the trial] and watched the way you work," Chiles said to Webb a bit later. "You keep asking me the same questions to try to trip me up."</p><p>Webb was scolded several times by Judge James Zagel for asking adversarial questions of Chiles, "sticking a needle in her." The judge said the information he was getting from the combative testimony was not helpful as he decides whether to throw out Cellini's guilty verdicts.</p><p>Zagel told attorneys his ruling will not only weigh on whether Chiles was qualified to be a juror, but whether she had any bias or prejudice after she was on the jury.</p></p> Fri, 06 Jan 2012 22:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-juror-blows-defense-lawyer-chicago-courtroom-95361 Judge wants to know more about Cellini juror http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-wants-know-more-about-cellini-juror-94345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/William Cellini (AP PhotoM. Spencer Green, File).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Federal Judge James Zagel says attorneys for Blagojevich Co-defendant William Cellini have argued forcefully for a new trial and he wants a hearing to look into evidence of why a juror in the case lied.</p><p>The juror lied about her criminal record which includes a DUI and possession of crack cocaine. The lies weren't discovered until after Cellini was convicted in the political corruption case.</p><p>Judge Zagel said even when a felon slips through the screening process, that doesn't mean the case is automatically overturned. Felons can serve on juries. But Zagel said the fact that the juror lied about her record could show a bias of some sort. Nonetheless, Zagel said Cellini has to prove there was an actual bias. If the juror gives a credible explanation that she was confused or embarrassed then a new trial is unlikely.</p><p>Cellini's attorneys have argued that the juror questionnaire was mailed out and was therefore essentially anonymous and shouldn't have caused any embarrassment. They also said the questions on criminal history were very clear.</p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-wants-know-more-about-cellini-juror-94345 Prosecutor: Cellini's verdict should stand http://www.wbez.org/story/prosecutor-cellinis-verdict-should-stand-94173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/RS4490_P1030967.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A federal prosecutor said Springfield power broker William Cellini should not be getting a new trial. This comes despite revelations a juror in his case lied about her criminal record.</p><p>Late Thursday night, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed a legal response saying Cellini's conviction should stand. Fitzgerald argued the juror had her full civil rights because she completed probation for her convictions. He also said even if she were ruled ineligible to serve, Cellini's attorneys would have to prove she deliberately concealed convictions.</p><p>Cellini's attorneys contend she was dishonest, making her a biased juror.</p><p>The decision on whether or not Cellini gets a new trial is now in the hands of Federal Judge James Zagel.</p><p>Cellini this month was convicted of joining a conspiracy to trade state contracts for campaign contributions for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 18 Nov 2011 12:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/prosecutor-cellinis-verdict-should-stand-94173 Cellini defense files motion in response to juror’s criminal history http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-15/cellini-defense-files-motion-response-juror%E2%80%99s-criminal-history-94057 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/AP Photo M. Spencer Green--Cellini&#039;s w cash.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys asked federal judge James Zagel to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-lawyers-ask-throw-out-convictions-citing-gov-ryans-case-94046" target="_blank">throw out</a> the conviction of William Cellini. The Springfield businessman was convicted just two weeks ago in connection with fundraising for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Then, last week, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a> revealed that one of the jurors on the case lied about her own criminal history. Cellini’s defense attorneys said those lies polluted the first trial, making a new one necessary. They made that argument in a motion filed late Monday. WBEZ’s criminal and legal affairs reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/robert-wildeboer" target="_blank">Robert Wildeboer</a> joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to analyze the move.</p><p><em>Music Button: Chris Joss, "Overstay", from the album No Play No Work, (ESL)</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 15:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-15/cellini-defense-files-motion-response-juror%E2%80%99s-criminal-history-94057 Former federal prosecutor evaluates significance of Cellini conviction http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-02/former-federal-prosecutor-evaluates-significance-cellini-conviction-9368 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-02/g2e22e20000000000000e7f4b906ff8386e6ef7f3f7124b7afceab17012.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>William Cellini, a native son of Springfield, could soon move from the corridors of power to a prison cell. Jurors <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-found-partially-guilty-corruption-charges-93558" target="_blank">convicted</a> the long-time political figure and Friend of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on two of four counts Tuesday. Cellini was found guilty of conspiracy to extort and of aiding and abetting bribery. His trial was likely the last of the so-called Operation Board Games prosecutions. <a href="http://www.hmltd.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=52&amp;Itemid=82" target="_blank">Patrick Deady</a>, a former federal prosecutor, saw his fair share of public corruption trials in Chicago, including that of former Gov. George Ryan. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> asked him to evaluate how the Cellini trial compared to previous prosecutions.</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-02/former-federal-prosecutor-evaluates-significance-cellini-conviction-9368 Cellini found guilty on corruption charges http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-found-partially-guilty-corruption-charges-93558 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/RS4490_P1030967.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A federal jury found William Cellini guilty Tuesday of joining a conspiracy to trade state contracts for campaign contributions for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.</p><p>The conviction is the latest in the long-running investigation into the Blagojevich administration, and it’s likely one of the last trials in “Operation Board Games,” marking the end of an era of political scandal in Illinois.</p><p>The jury found Cellini guilty of two of four counts, including:</p><blockquote><p>Count 2 – Conspiracy to Extort – Cellini knowingly joined a conspiracy – He knew what Rezko and Kelly were about and he didn’t walk away and he knew they were trading state contracts for campaign contributions to Blagojevich.</p><p>Count 4 – Aiding and Abetting Bribery – Cellini knowingly aided and abetted an agent of a state agency (Levine in his role as a TRS trustee) in corruptly soliciting something of value in connection to official state action.</p><p>However, the jury found Cellini not guilty of two other counts, including:</p><p>Count 1 – Conspiracy to defraud – Defendant knowingly joined a conspiracy to use Levine’s role as a public official to defraud the people of Illinois, specifically the teachers who entrusted Levine to act with their best interests at heart.</p><p>Count 3 – Attempted Extortion – Cellini knowingly attempted, with Levine, to get money from Rosenberg.&nbsp; They threatened to hold back Rosenberg’s $220 million allocation believing that that would force Rosenberg to pay the bribe. This count also requires that the extortion could have potentially affected interstate commerce which it would have as the $220 million would have been invested in companies nationwide.</p></blockquote><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-01/fitz.jpg" style="margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 325px; height: 489px;" title="U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (WBEZ/Susie An)">U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the conviction sends a message to people trying to make backroom deals in Illinois.</p><p>"I think people ought to understand that as a result of 'Operation Board Games' we can not only convict the governor, but convict Ed Vrdolyac and convict Bill Cellini. It sends a message that federal law enforcement will work together as partners and investigate vigorously and will bring charges as appropriate," Fitzgerald said.</p><p>Cellini's attorney Dan Webb said the jurors threw out what he called the most serious charges against his client.</p><p>"The conspiracy to commit extortion which could very well be one act on his part, but whatever it was, it didn't even rise to the level of being attempted extortion. And I'm grateful for that result from the jury," Webb said.</p><p>Webb plans to file an appeal.</p><p>The investigation into the Blagojevich administration began because Stuart Levine was using his power as a trustee on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board to try and squeeze bribes out of hospital administrators who had matters before the board. When Levine’s activity was reported, the FBI put a wiretap on his phones and Cellini had the misfortune of being in contact with Levine at that time.</p><p>Cellini was charged in connection to Levine’s work on another board, the Teacher’s Retirement System, the board that pays out teacher pensions and collects and invests the money. Cellini had won a contract to invest $220 million dollars for the fund, and prosecutors say, in an attempt to keep the contracts coming, he sought to curry favor with the new administration which meant doing business with Stuart Levine, Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly.</p><p>From the tapes, it seems clear that Cellini knew what Rezko and Kelly were about. In a May 8, 2004 phone call Cellini tells Levine about a contractor he knows who does work for the state.</p><blockquote><p>CELLINI: He's talkin' about these guys Tony and Chris because they are out uh, according to him...essentially hammerin' people for contracts uh, with with contracts for fundraising.</p><p>LEVINE: Mm hm.</p><p>CELLINI: And, and I gotta tell you I'm a nervous wreck over it myself.</p><p>LEVINE: You think they are?</p><p>CELLINI: Oh, oh...</p><p>LEVINE: Oh you know they are?</p><p>CELLINI: I know they are.</p></blockquote><p>In that same call, Levine lays it out pretty clearly for Cellini that they’re trading contracts for contributions. Levine and Cellini are discussing Tom Rosenberg who is refusing to give a contribution even though he’s got $220 million hanging in the balance. Levine has put a hold on that business hoping to get a bribe but Rosenberg threatened to go to federal authorities.</p><p>“The way I think that this should be handled is that they shouldn’t take a political contribution from him and he shouldn’t get an allocation,” Levine said on the FBI recording.</p><p>Cellini counsels Levine to take a middle road. He says TRS should give Rosenberg a small allocation, something like $25 million because he won’t be able to publicly complain about that. On the tape Cellini laughs, and in her closing argument, Assistant United States Attorney Julie Porter told jurors that that was the sound of corruption.</p><p>Cellini does seem worried about the way Rezko and Kelly do business but prosecutors say he had a choice. He could have walked away but he didn’t want to lose his clout.</p><p>“It may be that there is nobody checking yet,” Cellini is heard saying on FBI recordings. “That there is nobody investigating what they’re doing yet, but there’s so much going on that there’s no question that it will happen because too many people are talking about how you get things done.”</p><p>Cellini tells Levine that he recently had to counsel Chris Kelly who was distraught about a newspaper article. Cellini says he told Kelly that the scrutiny would only increase.</p><p>“If somebody comes in with badges and flashes them at you and in the course of the conversation says do you know Bill Cellini, just know before they ask that question that they have already checked all your phone logs and they know that we have talked on the phone, that we have called each other 4,700 times so you can’t say, oh, I’ve heard of him, or I barely know him because they know that we’ve called, talked back and forth,” Cellini said.</p><p>Cellini is the last Blagojevich co-defendant to stand trial.&nbsp; Blagojevich staffers John Harris and Lon Monk both pleaded guilty and testified against the former governor. Chris Kelly committed suicide. Robert Blagojevich was tried but prosecutors dropped the charges after the jury was split on his guilt. No sentencing date has been set for the former governor.</p><p>Tony Rezko, the brains behind corruption in the Blagojevich administration, is scheduled to be sentenced November 22.</p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cellini-found-partially-guilty-corruption-charges-93558 Closing arguments to begin in Cellini trial http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/closing-arguments-begin-cellini-trial-93447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/William Cellini (AP PhotoM. Spencer Green, File).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Closing arguments in the trial of William Cellini were scheduled to begin Tuesday. In some ways, Cellini’s case represented the end of an era in Illinois: His could very well be the last trial resulting from the federal investigation of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. WBEZ’s criminal and legal affairs reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/robert-wildeboer" target="_blank">Robert Wildeboer</a> has been covering the Cellini trial and spoke with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> about the trial and the legal twists and turns of those caught up in the long-running scandal.</p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 14:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/closing-arguments-begin-cellini-trial-93447