While the federal prosecutors who put a corrupt Springfield businessman behind bars didn’t get the sentence they were looking for, they are satisfied with the judge’s decision. Prosecutors sought a sentence of 7 ½ years for William Cellini, but ultimately Cellini was sentenced to one year and a day in jail and ordered to pay a $75,000 fine. That doesn’t bother acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro, who says given Cellini’s health troubles, he is not surprised by the short sentence.
“He’s about to turn 78, he’s had two heart attacks, he’s got blood clots, he’s in pretty poor shape and under those circumstances I think we would have been surprised if Judge [James] Zagel had given him more time,” Shapiro said.
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Cellini was convicted last year for his part in trying to shake down a movie producer for campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
So as “Operation Board Games” wraps up, is the culture of political corruption dead in Illinois? Shapiro says don’t hold your breath. “I’d like to think it’s the end of an era but I’ve been around here for too long to think it’s the end of an era,” Shapiro said. “I think it’s the end of this series of prosecutions. I’d like to think we’re never going to be prosecuting corrupt Illinois politicians again but I’d be insane to make that prediction."