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Illinois power broker Cellini reports to prison to begin serving term

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 9:40 a.m. CST

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Illinois power broker William Cellini reported to federal prison Tuesday afternoon to begin serving a one-year sentence for his conviction in the federal Operation Board Games probe.

Cellini, 78, turned himself in at the low-security prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to Ed Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan is scheduled to be released to a halfway house from the same Terre Haute prison next week.

Cellini was among the last of more than a dozen political insiders to be convicted in the federal investigation that also snared former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence in Colorado. A federal jury convicted Cellini in 2011 for his role in a plot to extort campaign contributions for Blagojevich from a Hollywood producer seeking to retain his lucrative state business.

In November Cellini ended his bid to stay out of prison pending an appeal. He would be eligible for release after about 10 months, Ross said.

In earlier arguing to delay Cellini’s imprisonment while the appeal was ongoing, his attorneys contended he had a strong likelihood of overturning his conviction because a juror had failed to disclose her felony past during jury selection.

About two weeks after Cellini was convicted, the Chicago Tribune reported that the juror did not disclose a 2000 felony drug conviction and a 2008 felony DUI conviction on a jury form and when the judge questioned her in the courtroom.

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