Downstate millionaire William Cellini doesn't want teachers who paid into the Teachers' Retirement System to sit on his jury.
Cellini's lawyers also asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel this morning if they could block from the jury anyone whose spouses or close family members are teachers.
That's because testimony at Cellini's federal trial is expected to accuse him of holding vast influence over the TRS board, allegedly controlling the strings from behind the scenes so that his real estate company could win hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. Cellini is charged with conspiring with a former TRS board member, Stuart Levine, to extort the Hollywood producer of "Million Dollar Baby" into giving Rod Blagojevich a campaign contribution in exchange for getting business with TRS.
Prosecutors said they would not object to blocking jurors who are teachers or whose spouses are teachers but oppose blocking beyond that.
This would not include Chicago Public School teachers, since they are not part of TRS and have their own pension plan.
After the discussion, the second day of jury selection resumed and the first potential juror questioned was a retired teacher.
She said she collects a pension.
From who? "The Teachers' Retirement System," she said.
At that, Cellini and his lawyers all looked down.