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Judge denies retrial for William Cellini

Updated: May 31, 2012 3:04PM

A federal judge in Chicago refused Thursday to overturn the convictions of William Cellini, the long-time behind-the-scenes power broker convicted of crimes connected with the Rod Blagojevich case.

Jurors convicted Cellini last November of conspiring to shake down the Oscar-winning producer of “Million Dollar Baby” for a contribution to Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

Cellini’s lawyers argued that U.S. District Judge James Zagel made multiple errors that denied their client a fair trial. Such defense motions are standard procedure after convictions but are rarely granted.

Cellini was in court Thursday as Zagel rejected his motion to throw out last year’s verdicts and order a retrial.

Zagel rejected defense claims that prosecutors improperly tried to exclude African Americans as jurors. The judge said there’s no evidence prosecutors tried to do that.

Cellini faces a maximum 30-year prison term. His sentencing is expected to be later this year — though Zagel hasn’t yet set a sentencing date.


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