CHICAGO, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Illinois political powerbroker Bill Cellini was convicted Tuesday on charges of trying to extort funds from a Hollywood producer.
A federal court jury in Chicago began its deliberations last Thursday after one juror was replaced. The case originally had gone to the jury Wednesday.
Cellini, who never held elected office, was convicted on two of four counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting in the solicitation of a bribe, but acquitted of attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, WBBM, Chicago, reported.
Cellini, 76, who orchestrated deals and raised campaign funds for four decades in Springfield, earning the nickname "The Pope," went on trial Oct. 6 on charges he tried in 2004 to extort a campaign contribution from Hollywood producer Tom Rosenberg, known for "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crank," among other films, threatening to withhold $220 million in pension funds earmarked for Rosenberg's company. Specifically, Cellini was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and extortion conspiracy involving a $1.5 million campaign contribution for convicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Much of the evidence against Cellini consisted of FBI surveillance tapes on which he could be heard laughing about using his position in state pension funds to squeeze his target. Cellini declined to testify.
The charges stemmed from a nearly decade-long investigation of Blagojevich, whose sentencing on 17 corruption counts was postponed because of Cellini's trial.