The judge said he’d never received so many letters. Then Zagel really shocked me, and a few other reporters in the courtroom, when he talked about a few of the pro-Cellini letters. Among these, Zagel said, were “letters from three prominent journalists.”
Prominent journalists? Is that why he was able to fly under the radar for so long?
Those names are sealed in the court file per Zagel’s orders, I’m told, but whoever they are, the three prominent journalists and the others and Mrs. Cellini got what they asked for. They wanted mercy from Zagel. And that’s what he gave them.
I wasn’t asked to write a letter, and I wouldn’t have written one if I had been asked.
* I do happen to think that Bill Cellini was given the Al Capone income tax treatment…
“I think there is something to be said for incarceration for a person in Bill Cellini’s position,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro after the sentencing. “… In certain communities, sentences of incarceration do send messages, and this is a small community we are talking about — the sort of bipartisan cabal of Illinois, the people that are the behind-the-scenes folks that fuel the corruption and raise the money. Those people pay attention to things like this, and they pay attention when someone who is almost 78 goes to prison.”
Prosecutors were so convinced he was a criminal that they sent him away over a fantastical scheme. Stu Levine and Cellini were supposedly shaking down a Hollywood guy for a $1.5 million contribution to Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund. In 2004, that sort of contribution from an individual was absolutely unheard of in Illinois. I don’t believe the scheme actually existed beyond Levine’s drug-addled head. Cellini never asked the target for the cash, and Tony Rezko - who was alleged to have been in on the scheme - was acquitted on that particular count.
But a letter of support? Nope. No way.
* Mark Brown: Cellini sentence another step forward for honest government
* Powerbroker gets 1 year in prison in movie producer shakedown
* Ex-Illinois powerbroker William Cellini sentenced to 1 year in prison