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Judge Won’t Reverse Shakedown Conviction Of Powerbroker Cellini

Springfield businessman William Cellini has been nicknamed both "The King of Clout" and "The Pope" for his significant influence in Illinois politics. (AP File Photo)

Springfield businessman William Cellini has been nicknamed both “The King of Clout” and “The Pope” for his significant influence in Illinois politics. (AP File Photo)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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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