Last Trial Related To Blagojevich Investigation Underway

The last trial related to the FBI's investigation of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich began on Tuesday. William Cellini, a major player in the state's political scene, faces charges of extortion while seeking campaign funds for the former governor.
by , | October 3, 2011

The last trial stemming from the FBI's decade-long investigation into former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich began on Monday as William Cellini, "the King of Clout", faces extortion charges, the Associated Press reports. Jury selection is underway.

Cellini, 76, is a lifelong Republican who has worked behind the scenes in the state's politics, according to the AP. He is accused of trying to extort $1.5 million in campaign contributions for Blagojevich from movie producer Thomas Rosenberg. If convicted, he could face up to 50 years in prison. Cellini has plead not guilty, the news agency reports.

According to the AP, prosecutors claim Cellini and others, including members of Blagojevich's inner circle, planned to threaten Rosenberg's investment company with the loss of $220 million in state pension money from a $30 billion teacher retirement system that they controlled unless he donated to Blagojevich's campaign.

The trial, which will be held in the same courtroom where the disgraced governor was recently convicted, is expected to last three weeks.

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