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Cellini: From Powerful to Powerless
While many in the Springfield community say Bill Cellini is a good guy, has a generous heart, and would help anyone, others call him a crook, corrupt, and unethical.
Cellini helped politicians with their careers, donated to several charities, and developed and managed properties. On the other hand, some questioned anything when Cellini was involved. In the end, he was convicted of a "pay to play" scheme.
Bill Cellini the delegate. Bill Cellini laughing.
Those are some of the images people who knew Cellini well, remember. State Sen. Larry Bomke called the Springfield businessman a good man who was wrongfully convicted.
"He called me often when governors called him to encourage me to vote for certain things and more often than not, I would have to tell him I couldn't do it," Bomke said. "He never said, 'You know, I helped you get there. You owe it to me.' He always ended the conversation with, 'You have to do what you think is the right thing to do.'"
There were plenty of others who believe Cellini was rightfully convicted. We asked our Facebook fans if they thought Cellini should be thrown in prison.
Joan said: "Jail time. He has gotten by with too much for many years."
Ryan said: "Do the crime, do the time."
For someone who yielded so much power in the Illinois political arena, even from behind the scenes, Cellini is now another reminder of Illinois' corrupt past.
"We have a political culture in this state that tends to tolerate this kind of corruption," Ron Michaelson, a UIS political science professor, said. "It's time we turn that around."
There is still a lot of support for Cellini from this community. Former Springfield Mayor Karren Hasera and Sangamon County Chairman Andy Van Meter both wrote letters of support for Cellini.
"He helped a number of people," Bomke said. "Republicans and Democrats."
"Bill was a wealthy person," Michaelson said. "Sometimes people in that position want a little bit more."
Bomke also credits Cellini and especially Cellini's wife, Julie, for their involvement in creating the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Even back then, however, others opposed his involvement in the process, including then-U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.
Cellini Sentenced to 366 Days, $75,000 Fine
Timeline: Cellini's Rise and Fall
Cellini Speaks About Sentencing