A Springfield businessman has been found guilty on two of four political corruption counts. William Cellini was found guilty Tuesday on conspiracy to commit extortion, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and solicitation of a bribe, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The two counts are directly linked to a scheme to shake down a Hollywood producer for campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for state investments.
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The political power broker looked calm and looked directly at the court clerk as the he read the verdict. The jury was then polled and Cellini looked between the court clerk and jurors as they were each asked if this was their verdict. Cellini, known as the “Pope” to political insiders, was found not guilty on two other charges: conspiracy to commit mail fraud and attempted extortion. Cellini’s attorney, Dan Webb, says he will appeal the guilty counts. Cellini is still free on bond. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald credited wiretaps for Cellini’s conviction. Some of those same recordings were used to convict political fixer and Blagojevich advisor Tony Rezko. Other tapes stemming from Operation Board Games were used to convict Blagojevich.