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Prosecutors: Cellini should get 6 1/2 to 8 years in prison

** TAKES OUT SKOKIE ILL. IN REFERENCE TO SHALOM MENORA'S RESIDENCE ** This photaken July 12 2010 Chicago's Museum Science

** TAKES OUT SKOKIE, ILL. IN REFERENCE TO SHALOM MENORA'S RESIDENCE ** This photo taken July 12, 2010 at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and provided by the Menora famiy shows Shalom Menora and three of his children Yossi Menora, 13, left; Rikki Menora, 16, second from right; and Rachel Menora, 14, right, all from Bet Shemesh, Israel. The two daughters along with their grandfather Moshe Menora, of Skokie, Ill., and another one of his granddaughters, Sara Klein, 17, of Jerusalem were killed Tuesday, July 13, 2010, when their small plane crashed on an interstate in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Yossi was hospitalized Wednesday after being ejected from the aircraft. He was the only survivor from the Tuesday evening crash. (AP Photo/Museum of Science and Industry via courtesy the Menora family) **NO SALES**

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Updated: July 13, 2012 10:10PM

Prosecutors are calling for a former powerbroker with links to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to be sentenced to up to eight years in prison for conspiring to shake down the Oscar-winning producer of “Million Dollar Baby,” though prosecutors conceded health problems could justify a lesser sentence.

William Cellini, 77, reportedly suffered a heart attack in June and recently was treated for a blood clot. But some legal experts said Friday that those medical issues don’t mean that U.S. District Judge James Zagel will go easy on the man, once known as the King of Clout, when he is sentenced in Chicago on July 23.

Filed this week, prosecutors’ 29-page document adamantly rejects a defense proposal that the Springfield Republican receive probation and recommends a prison term of between 6 1/2 and eight years. They add, though, that a “combination of Cellini’s health and age makes this one of the relatively rare situations” where a sentence below that range may be appropriate.

“Cellini goes too far, however, by suggesting that his age and health justify a sentence of probation,” prosecutors added.

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 threaten 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.

Despite briefly citing medical issues, prosecutors by no means urged Zagel to go easy on Cellini, arguing that prison doctors would be able to adequately treat him. 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,” they argued.

One of Cellini’s lawyers, Thomas Kirsch, issued a statement Friday saying the defense would file a sentencing memorandum soon that “will assert that the evidence at the trial and the jury verdicts make a compelling argument for probation.”

Associated Press

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