Federal prosecutors in Chicago are asking a federal judge to block "irrelevant" questions about the personal life of the expected star witness in the William Cellini trial: serial swindler Stuart Levine.
Prosecutors say defense lawyers for Cellini should not be allowed to delve into Levine's lurid background, including his previous testimony that he'd engage in all-night, drug-fueled parties at the Purple Hotel in Skokie and then attend a meeting for a state board the following day.
The government is trying to avoid the same 15-day saga that played out in Tony Rezko's 2008 corruption trial, where Levine, once a GOP supporter and the member of two influential state boards, spelled out many details of his personal life, arguably creating a distraction in the trial.
"The government anticipates that the defendant will attempt to introduce evidence or
cross-examine Stuart Levine, a potential government witness, on certain matters that are
irrelevant and/or unduly prejudicial, such as on matters pertaining to Levine's drug use and
personal life," prosecutors wrote in today's filing. "...Those topic areas are as irrelevant
and/or unfairly prejudicial."
Prosecutors are again before Judge James Zagel, who previously ruled that those issues could not come up if Levine were to testify in the Blagojevich trial. He never did.
Cellini is a wealthy Springfield power broker accused of conspiring with others to extort a campaign contribution for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from Capri Capital's Tom Rosenberg, who is also a Hollywood film producer.
Levine is key to Cellini's trial because he and Cellini are on recordings.
Cellini's lawyer, Dan Webb, recently told the Chicago Sun-Times he wasn't worried about the recordings -- or Levine.
Webb, who said he will personally cross-examine Levine, said the prosecution's case rests on the allegation that Cellini worked to extort Rosenberg.
"Rosenberg has admitted under oath in the Rezko trial that Cellini never asked him to make a campaign contribution, never once," Webb has said.
Levine has admitted to a litany of corruption, including rigging votes on two state boards in exchange for kickbacks.
Rezko, who had been cooperating with authorities following his conviction, is not expected to testify.
Cellini is supposed to go on trial Oct. 3 though Blagojevich --once a codefendant -- is scheduled to be sentenced three days later.
Scheduling could come up in a hearing set for this Friday.