CHICAGO (AP) – A federal judge agreed to delay the sentencing of a onetime Springfield powerbroker with ties to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for a second time Wednesday because of health issues.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel rescheduled William Cellini’s sentencing for Oct. 4 after lawyers said he was too sick to travel to Chicago.
Jurors convicted Cellini last year of conspiring to squeeze Hollywood executive Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million donation to Blagojevich’s campaign. Prosecutors say Cellini and his cohorts planned to use their influence on an Illinois board and threatened to yank $220 million in state pension money from Rosenberg’s investment company unless he paid up.
Cellini was convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting the solicitation of a bribe, which carry a combined maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
His sentencing was delayed once before last month after the 77-year-old reportedly suffered a heart attack. He was treated more recently for a blood clot.
Prosecutors have said Cellini deserves to go to prison for up to eight years for conspiring to extort the Oscar-winning producer of “Million Dollar Baby.” They have argued that prison doctors would be able to adequately treat Cellini, and that failing to imprison the businessman — whose estimated net worth was $153 million in 2005 — could send the message “that different rules apply to the wealthy and powerful.”
But they’ve also conceded his health problems could justify a lesser sentence as long as he is given a “meaningful sentence of incarceration.”
Cellini’s attorneys are believed to favor probation.
Zagel is the same judge who handed Blagojevich a stiff 14-year sentence for corruption that included seeking to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.
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