CHICAGO (CN) – Power broker William Cellini is charged with conspiring to extort a real estate firm into making political contributions to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Cellini, 73, of Springfield, is the thirteenth person charged in “Operation Board Games,” a federal probe that also snared developer and Blagojevich fund-raiser Antoin Rezko.
Rezko was convicted of 16 felony counts in June.
Cellini’s attorney, Dan Webb, said Cellini “is completely innocent of these charges, and he will fight this case because he has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
The indictment alleges that Cellini threatened to withhold $220 million allocated by the Teacher’s Retirement System to Capri Capital, a real estate firm headed by Hollywood producer Thomas Rosenberg, unless Rosenberg donated a “substantial amount of funds” to Blagojevich’s campaign.
But Cellini’s attorney Webb insists that evidence presented at Rezko’s trial “demonstrated that Bill Cellini never asked Rosenberg for any money, for any political contribution, or for anything else,” and that “the evidence is the same today as it was then.”
Cellini has been a fixture of Illinois politics for more than 40 years. He began his political career as Springfield city commissioner in 1963 and since then has been involved in many projects, including road-building and casinos.