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Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Swindles, drug binging by star federal witness take center stage in Cellini corruption trial

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By Natasha Korecki
Chicago Sun-Times/nkorecki@suntimes.com
The star witness in the trial of Springfield millionaire William Cellini on Monday detailed day-long drug binges with male friends at the Purple Hotel in Lincolnwood that
included snorting 10 lines of a potent mix of drugs. The parties and drug binging happened around the same time he allegedly conspired with Cellini.
Under questioning by Cellini lawyer and former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, Stuart Levine admitted that on the same day - May 8, 2004 -- he was captured on tape talking to Cellini about state pension deals, he was on an FBI tape arranging a drug pick-up with his drug dealer.
Webb, who is hoping to show Levine has both memory issues and a propensity to lie, was not allowed to play the brief recording to jurors but asked Levine, who admitted to it.
"Never when I'm dealing with Mr. Cellini," Levine told Webb, when asked if he were taking drugs when he was dealing with Cellini.
"Do you think your drug usage is impacting your ability to remember?" Webb asked at one point.
"It's possible," Levine said.
Levine said over the years, he paid for all the drugs used in his parties. Over eight-to-10 hours, Levine would snort 10 lines that were a mixture of Ketamine and Crystal Meth.
"Did you do that so you could continually stay high throughout the day?" Webb asked.
"Yes," said Levine.
Sometimes Levine would pay for a private jet to fly his male companions to hotels in Springfield and Bloomington and take part in the parties, he said.
Levine said he's given his companions about $500,000 in cash over the years.
One of the men threatened to expose Levine's secret lifestyle if Levine didn't pay him $300,000, he said. Levine paid up and when the man returned for more money, Levine told his lawyers, who told the government. He never heard from the man again.
"Were you glad it stopped?" Webb asked. "Yes," Levine said.
"Did you find that to be a benefit to you?" Webb said.
"Yes," Levine said.
At the same time Levine was engaging in drug binges two-to-three times a month, he served on the board of Interventions, which operated drug rehab facilities.
"Did that seem a little deceitful to you?" Webb asked. The judge blocked Levine from answering.
Levine has admitted that when the feds caught up to him in 2004, he lied to the federal court system about his drug use so he could be freed on bond.
"Will you lie to this court system if you think you'll benefit from it?" Webb asked.
Levine responded loudly: "No I will not."
Cellini is charged with conspiring with Levine and two fund-raisers to Rod Blagojevich, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko. Cellini is accused of passing on a message to Hollywood Producer Tom Rosenberg that Rosenberg was expected to kick in money to Blagojevich's campaign fund if he wanted his investment firm, Capri Capital, to win a $220 million investment from the Teachers' Retirement System. Cellini wielded significant influence over TRS, according to testimony.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on October 17, 2011 1:09 AM.

Here's the Sun-Times' play-by-play on Cellini trial openings was the previous entry in this blog.

Prosecutors: Cellini trial could wrap up by week's end is the next entry in this blog.

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