Jurors go to downtown bar after convicting Cellini
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporters November 1, 2011 6:32PM
Updated: November 2, 2011 1:49AM
Jurors in William Cellini’s trial got along so well during their deliberations, that after reaching a unanimous verdict on Tuesday, they assembled at the nearby Elephant & Castle restaurant and bar near the downtown federal courthouse.
About eight jurors who spent the last 3 ½ weeks or so listening to evidence in Cellini’s trial toasted their conclusion to the case, which ended in a split verdict with two guilty counts and two not guilty counts.
Juror Paulette Green of Round Lake Park said the panel of 10 women and two men had all but decided the case on Friday but wanted to take the weekend to think about it. Not long after arriving this morning, they voted to convict on two of four counts.
Green said that it was a combination of factors — including tapes — that caused her to convict.
“There really wasn’t just one thing,” Green said. “We had to focus on the letter of the law. We had to go over all the information.”
The secret recordings containing conversations of Cellini and star witness Stuart Levine were just a piece of the puzzle, she said.
“It was only part of it,” she said. As for the word of serial conman Levine, she said “He was a big part of the case, but he wasn’t the only part.”
The jury found reasonable doubt on the two counts where they acquitted, she said.
Another juror who helped decide the Cellini’s fate said to her it came down to the secret recordings played in court, in which Cellini could be heard conspiring 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.