Former Gov. Edgar ‘very disappointed’ in conviction of his friend, Cellini
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield bureau chief November 1, 2011 3:02PM
Updated: December 3, 2011 8:17AM
SPRINGFIELD — Former Gov. Jim Edgar, a long-time friend of Bill Cellini — who held significant sway during Edgar’s two terms in the 1990s — said Tuesday he is “very disappointed” by the guilty verdicts in Cellini’s corruption trial.
“Bill has been a good friend for years. I’m very disappointed and feel bad for him,” Edgar told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I didn’t sit through the trial. I just know my dealings with Bill. He always acted very properly. I’m surprised at this point.”
Edgar said he last spoke with Cellini prior to the beginning of his trial, and Cellini at that point was confident he could beat the charges against him.
“I’m sure he is shocked with the verdict because I know he felt like he hadn’t done anything wrong in this case,” Edgar said.
Edgar said he had presumed Cellini’s fortunes in federal court were buoyed by the fact the federal jury trying political fund-raiser Tony Rezko cleared Rezko of charges related to the pay-to-play extortion attempt against Hollywood producer Thomas Rosenberg that ensnared Cellini.
“I told him one time, no good deed goes unpunished. Rosenberg called him to help, he got in the middle and got blamed for it, and that’s unfortunate,” the ex-governor said. “The thing I was a little surprised on was that this was the one thing the Rezko jury acquitted Rezko on,.”
Edgar also questioned whether Cellini fell victim to the widespread public cynicism that exists in Illinois, where federal juries have convicted two successive governors on corruption charges.
“I think there’s no doubt, probably in this atmosphere, people kind of think folks are guilty before they go to trial,” Edgar said. “As I said, I’m disappointed.”