A Springfield businessman has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison on corruption charges. Federal Judge James Zagel handed down the sentence to political powerbroker Bill Cellini Thursday evening. The 77-year-old was convicted last year for his role in trying to shake down a movie producer for campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Cellini will also have to pay a $75,000 fine and is subject to two years supervised release.
Federal prosecutors had wanted a 7 ½ year sentence for Cellini but Zagel took Cellini’s age and health issues into account upon imposing the sentence. Cellini has suffered from some medical setbacks including a heart attack in June. Defense attorney Dan Webb had hoped for probation.
“Myself and Mr. Cellini have great respect for Judge Zagel and his discretion however we are disappointed that Mr. Cellini did not get a sentence of probation but obviously we accept the sentence that Judge Zagel provided,” Webb said after court. Webb believes there are significant issue on appeal and will follow through.
Cellini was convicted of conspiring to commit extortion and aiding and abetting solicitation of a bribe. His trial was the last in a series of convictions that came out of the investigation into Blagojevich.
A side note to the sentencing hearing came after Zagel revealed the mass amount of letters he received in support of Cellini. Among those letters Zagel said three were from “prominent” journalists. The letters remain under seal.
Cellini left the federal courthouse in Chicago without talking to reporters. He’s been ordered to report to prison on January 4, 2013.