Sketch by Thomas Gianni
William Cellini's lawyers argued Monday that the once-powerful Illinois political player should get probation for his role in a scheme to try to get a campaign donation from a Hollywood producer.
Federal prosecutors want a judge to sentence the Springfield Republican to 6 ½ to eight years for conspiring to commit extortion and aiding and abetting solicitation of a bribe from Thomas Rosenberg, the Oscar-winning producer of the film "Million-Dollar Baby."
Cellini's involvement in the scheme to get a $1.5 million campaign contribution from Rosenberg in exchange for state business was part of the wide-ranging web of fraud that sent impeached Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and several former aides and supporters to prison.
Cellini's attorneys filed paperwork Monday saying that the sentencing recommendation by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago is based on more serious offenses for which Cellini was acquitted. They say evidence shows Cellini was unaware of an extortion plan and that Rosenberg testified that Cellini had never asked him to make a political donation.
"Rather than take an honest look at the post-trial landscape and evaluate what might be a just and equitable sentence for the 77-year-old Cellini, the government shrouds itself in bombastic drama about things Cellini did not do and describes a man that he is not," the court filling said.
Cellini was convicted last fall. Last week, the judge in the case agreed to delay sentencing until Oct. 4 because Cellini is too ill to travel now. In June, sentencing was delayed after Cellini reportedly suffered a heart attack. He was treated more recently for a blood clot.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined comment Monday. Prosecutors have previously conceded health problems could warrant a lesser term as long as Cellini receives a "meaningful sentence."
Copyright Associated Press