Judge Won’t Reverse Shakedown Conviction Of Powerbroker Cellini

UPDATED 06/01/12 6:20 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal judge Thursday denied one-time political power broker William Cellini’s latest bid for a new trial.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, in their latest attempt, Cellini’s attorneys argued that prosecutors tried improperly to exclude African-Americans as jurors, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he found no evidence of it.

Earlier this year, Zagel rejected arguments that Cellini failed to get a fair trial because a juror lied about her criminal record.

Jurors convicted Cellini in November of conspiring to shake down the Oscar-winning producer of the movie “Million Dollar Baby” for a contribution to the campaign war-chest of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Cellini, a Springfield contractor, was an important behind-the-scenes fundraiser for both Republican and Democratic politicians in Illinois for several decades.

Cellini faces a maximum 30 years in prison when sentenced later this year.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

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