Cellini trial juror two felony convictions?, May overturn verdict, Woman juror with crack cocaine conviction
From the Chicago Tribune November 11, 2011.
“Juror in Cellini trial appears to have hidden two felony convictions, Tribune finds”
“Court officials acknowledged Thursday that information revealed by the Tribune appears to show that a member of the federal jury that convicted Springfield power broker William Cellini concealed two felony convictions.
Attorneys for Cellini said the information may be used in seeking to overturn last week’s verdict.
Cook County court records show that a woman with the same name, age and address as the juror pleaded guilty to a felony charge of crack-cocaine possession in February 2000 and was sentenced to 1 1/2 years of probation. In August 2008, she pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence without a driver’s license, also a felony, and was sentenced to probation and time served — 44 days in jail, according to the records.
The juror never disclosed she had a conviction on a questionnaire filled out by jurors or under questioning by the judge in the courtroom during jury selection early last month, court officials acknowledged Thursday night after the Tribune came forward with the information.
Federal law generally disqualifies convicted felons from serving on juries.
At her South Side apartment Thursday morning, the female juror invited a Tribune reporter into the building lobby, confirmed she was a juror in the Cellini trial but then declined to answer questions about a criminal background.
The Tribune’s disclosures shocked Cellini’s lawyers. Dan Webb, one of his attorneys, said he could seek to overturn the conviction based on her taking part in the verdict.
“I consider this very important information that I was not aware of,” Webb said. “I don’t know the facts here, but based on what the Tribune has reported to me, we are looking into the matter to determine if we have a basis to file a motion for a mistrial because a juror may have been allowed to serve on this jury who was legally disqualified from jury service.”
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, declined to comment on the development.
The jury deliberated a little more than two days before convicting Cellini, 77, a key behind-the-scenes player in state government and politics for four decades, on Nov. 1 in the extortion attempt of a Hollywood producer. The charges grew out of the federal probe that snared former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and several of his top advisers.”
“In the narcotics case, the woman was arrested by Chicago police in possession of a plastic bag with 10 rocks of crack cocaine, less than a gram, according to court records.
In July 2008, she was stopped by Chicago police while driving through a sobriety checkpoint on the South Side. Police reported that she had bloodshot, glassy eyes and smelled of alcohol.
She told police she’d been at a party and had some liquor but “felt fine,” according to a police report, but she failed field sobriety tests and recorded a 0.122 percent on a Breathalyzer at the station, well above the legal limit of 0.08, according to court records. When police checked her record, they discovered she had never had a valid driver’s license.
That woman satisfactorily completed the probation sentence in September 2010, the records show.”
If there is a retrial, does this mean that Stuart Levine will not be used as a witness due to his long time drug abuse?
And be replaced by Tony Rezko, who knows more and is not tainted by drug use?