By Natasha Korecki
A Hollywood producer testified in federal court Thursday morning that a Springfield power broker told him his business with the state had been put on hold because he hadn't contributed to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund.
Producer and businessman Tom Rosenberg said his firm, Capri Capital, did not initially get the $220 million in state teachers' pension fund business it was slotted to get.
When he asked Springfield millionaire William Cellini about it, Cellini told him he had angered Blagojevich fund-raisers Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly by not kicking in to the then-governor's campaign fund, he said.
"Bill told me that Rezko and Kelly said it would not go forward until Capri made the appropriate (contribution)," Rosenberg testified. "He was telling me why it was stopped and it would be stopped until money was contributed to (Rod) Blagojevich."
Rosenberg said he "screamed and cursed," at Cellini in that May 2004 phone call.
"I told Bill that I would not be shaken down," Rosenberg said. "I told him I would stand on the corner of State and Madison and discuss this ... I screamed and cursed. I wanted him to pass on the full level of my fury to Rezko and Kelly."
Rosenberg said Cellini told him he would call the director of the Teachers' Retirement System to see about Capri's $220 million.
Cellini later called Rosenberg with the news that he'd get his money.
"It was OK with (Bauman) if it was OK with the 'pope'," Rosenberg said Cellini told him. Bauman referred to Cellini as the pope, he said.
Rosenberg also said he and Cellini previously talked about Rezko and Kelly having tried to wield control over TRS investments. Rosenberg said Cellini told him Bauman was going to have a "nervous breakdown" over Rezko and Kelly's demands.
The testimony combats Cellini's contention that he was an unwitting participant, or "the ham in the ham sandwich" in the alleged extortion scheme. Cellini is on trial, accused of conspiring with board member Stuart Levine, Rezko and Kelly to extort Rosenberg.