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Political Insider Cellini Pleads Not Guilty

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Illinois political insider William Cellini, Sr., pleaded not guilty today to federal corruption charges.

Cellini is a 74-year-old millionaire from Springfield, a Republican who’s also raised money for Democrats. He entered a plea of not guilty to the four counts filed against him, including attempted extortion and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say Cellini worked out a scheme with two other political insiders already trapped by the feds, Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine. The men allegedly tried to force an investment firm wanting to do business with a state pension fund to make campaign donations to an unnamed “Public Official A.” Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been identified as that public official in the past, a claim denied by the governor.

If convicted, Cellini faces up to 55 years in prison. He was released Friday on bond, using his house as collateral.

I’m Sam Hudzik, Chicago Public Radio.

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