Federal Jury Finds Illinois Power Broker Guilty in Shakedown of Hollywood Producer

For decades, William Cellini was feared and respected at the highest reaches of state government — advising governors, screening state Cabinet officials, controlling federal appointments and winning tens of millions of dollars in state contracts even as players bowed to him as “the pope.”

A mega-millionaire who for decades stayed in the shadows of Illinois power even as he wielded enormous influence looked on Wednesday at his corruption trial as prosecutors shined a bright light on allegations that he used his political sway to try to shake down a Hollywood executive.

A jury convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today of nearly all the corruption charges against him, including that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.