It appears the prosecution wants to play a recorded conversation between powerful Republican William Cellini and Stuart Levine, the government's top witness, who is expected to get back on the stand Monday morning. Cellini talks about two Blagojevich fund-raisers and the possibility of an investigation into trading board posts for campaign cash. The defense filed a motion over the weekend trying to keep out portions of that May 8, 2004 recording. They say it has nothing to do with
the charges against Rezko.
Federal Courts Reporter
Tony Rezko’s lawyers are trying to keep out of his trial portions of a secretly recorded phone call in which Republican power broker William Cellini talks of pay-to-play tactics in Gov. Blagojevich's administration.
“Tony and Chris . . . are
. . . essentially hammerin’ people . . . with contracts for fund-raising.” Cellini says on tape, according to a defense filing. “I’m a nervous wreck over it myself.”
Cellini is referring to Rezko and fellow Blagojevich fund-raiser Chris Kelly in a converstion with Stuart Levine, the government’s star witness.
Rezko’s attorneys moved, in a court filing over the weekend, to ban from the trial portions of the call because it amounts to “double and triple hearsay.”
A lengthy portion of the recording involves Hollywood Producer and businessman Tom Rosenberg, the filing says. Rosenberg angrily complained to Cellini that he was being extorted for a campaign contribution in exchange for state investment into his company, according to the phone call defense lawyers cite.
The feds charge that Levine and Rezko attempted to extort Rosenberg for $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich.
Rezko lawyers say it isn’t fair to their client to include some of what Cellini talks about. That includes his saying he once told Kelly what to do “if someone comes in with badges and flashes them at you,” according to the filing.
Cellini also speculates about an investigation into Kelly and Rezko’s alleged practices saying there “is no question that it will happen.”
And Cellini relays Rosenberg’s opinion that “everybody who’s associated with these two are gonna get drug through the mud.”
Lawyers for Cellini and Kelly could not be reached Sunday.