A good government group says the conviction of a political power broker sends a warning to those looking to defraud taxpayers. Andy Shaw, president of the Better Government Association, says the conviction of Springfield businessman William Cellini sends a message that attempting to defraud public pension systems won’t be tolerated.
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“This type of corruption in pension deals in which politics took precedence over professionalism has contributed to the pension crisis in Illinois,” Shaw said. “So to the extent that this sends a message that polluting and corrupting the pension process is illegal and will be punished, it’s a step forward in eventually restoring fiscal health to the pension system. This tells Mr. Cellini and others that there will be accountability when they corrupt systems of government like pensions.” Cellini was found guilty Tuesday on two of four counts that dealt with investments with the Teachers Retirement System. Jurors found Cellini guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion and solicitation of a bribe for his role in shaking down the owner of a real estate investment company for campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in order to get an investment from TRS.