Cellini was found guilty last November of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting the solicitation of a bribe. In his sentencing memorandum, however, Cellini sought to downplay his role in the overall scheme as justification for probation.
Additionally, Cellini sought leniency due to his age of just under 80 years and substantial ailments including cardiovascular issues and prostate cancer. Cellini submitted over 364 letters from individuals seeking leniency from the court on Cellini’s behalf.
Cellini had also argued that, while probation recommended a reduction under Section 3B1.2 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for his lesser role in the overall scheme, he should benefit from the 4-level reduction as a “minimal” participant rather than the 2-level reduction as a “minor” participant as Probation had recommended.
Despite these arguments made by the defense, the Judge Zagel nonetheless sentenced Cellini to a year and a day in prison, concluding the last of the proceedings against the defendants in the Blagojevich case.
Although he was not awarded probation, the one-year sentence is certainly far less than the 6 1/2-8 years that the Government had pursued, perhaps a recognition by the court of Cellini’s age and health problems as well as the need to keep his sentence in line with those of his co-defendants. After all, Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak had only a year prior been released from a 10-month sentence for his involvement in the same scheme.
Although it is likely that Cellini will take steps to avoid going to prison, his sentencing marks the end of a black era of Illinois government and the corruption with which the state has become associated.