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Cellini juror: ‘What really got him was the wiretaps’

Updated: November 1, 2011 7:04PM

For one juror who helped decide the fate of convicted Springfield power broker William Cellini, it came down to the secret recordings played in court, in which Cellini could be heard plotting to extort money from a Hollywood producer.

“What really got him was the wiretaps,” juror Candy Chiles said Tuesday evening, shortly after Cellini was found guilty. “It was right there. ... All the evidence was overwhelming.”

Chiles, 50, a daycare provider from the South Side, said the jury spent a week reviewing the wiretaps and documentation from the case before deciding that Cellini was guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting the solicitation of a bribe.

“He did the crime, and when you do the crime you have to do the time,” said Chiles.

Chiles didn’t buy the argument that Cellini wasn’t involved in the extortion attempt and that it was government witness Stuart Levine who was behind the entire plot to get campaign contributions from Thomas Rosenburg, the producer of “Million Dollar Baby,” for ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“It was clear [Cellini] was the mastermind,” Chiles said. “He outsmarted all of them. He let them basically do all the dirty work. But in the end there were flaws that he couldn’t overcome on the wiretaps.”

She said the testimony of Levine, a serial conman and drug abuser, was important but not the key factor in the case.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ The way Levine stole all that money, he was something else. It was unbelievable. And then he made a deal with the government where he is only going to get five years. I thought he deserved a lot more than that.”

She did say that the jury voted unanimously on both counts to convict and on two others to acquit.

“He did get two not guiltys,” she said. “When we saw the evidence that’s all we could do for him.”

She said on one of the counts he was acquitted for, “we had trouble with it, but in the end we figured out he wasn’t trying to threaten anybody,” which is what the law required.

She doesn’t feel sorry for Cellini, a longtime behind-the-scenes mover and shaker who influenced both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

“He’ll be alright,” she said. “He was alright when he was stealing all the money.”

Jurors were friendly to each other throughout the deliberations and all 12 “got along.” After the verdict was read, several jurors went out to have a drink together, she noted.

“We debated many things but it was all very amicable, and we were able to come together as one,” Chiles said.

After missing weeks of work, she said she was left with a disturbing feeling after she got a look at the corruption pervasive in Illinois politics.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “All I could think was this is such a shame. They need to watch who gets into office because it seems like every governor we’ve had in the last decade has been dipping into the cookie jar.”

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