Lawyers for convicted Illinois power broker William Cellini filed papers Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Chicago arguing their client deserves probation for his role in a scheme to get a campaign donation from a Hollywood producer.
In the filing, the lawyers point to hundreds of letters by Cellini supporters, including former Gov. Jim Edgar.
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"On many occasions I did not agree with Bill's position on an issue and I would often take action which was contrary to Bill's position," Edgar wrote. "In all of this time and in all of these issues, I never personally saw nor did I hear on any of those occasions that Bill acted improperly in any manner. Bill never asked me to take any action which I deemed inappropriate."
The lawyers contend Cellini's generosity and charity helped hundreds of people and should inform any punishment Judge James Zagel hands down in the case, scheduled for Oct. 4.
The filing by Cellini's lawyers also points to his advanced age and frail health. The 77-year-old Cellini suffered a heart attack in June during a medical procedure. He was released from the hospital two days later. Prosecutors previously have conceded health problems could warrant a lesser term as long as Cellini receives a "meaningful sentence."
Federal prosecutors want a 6½- to eight-year prison sentence for the Springfield Republican. He was convicted of conspiring to commit extortion, and aiding and abetting solicitation of a bribe from Thomas Rosenberg, the Oscar-winning producer of the film "Million-Dollar Baby."
Cellini's involvement in the scheme to get a $1.5 million campaign contribution from Rosenberg in exchange for state business was part of the wide-ranging web of fraud that sent impeached Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and several former aides and supporters to prison.