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Cellini jury goes home for the weekend

The federal jury weighing the fate of Springfield power broker William Cellini has recessed for a long weekend.

There was no explanation for why the jury ended its deliberations before 3 p.m. – earlier than typical.

It marked their second day of deliberations since a juror was excused for an unexplained conflict of interest, an alternate joined the jury and deliberations restarted on Thursday.

The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations on Tuesday morning. The judge presiding over the trial said he has a conference to attend on Monday.

The jury originally had been give the case Wednesday in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.

U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel said a juror on Wednesday informed a court officer of a conflict of interest. Zagel declined to reveal the nature of the conflict, saying he was sealing the matter until after the verdict. He did not elaborate further.

Zagel instructed the jury in open court to begin deliberations from scratch.

The new panel of 10 women and two men began deliberating Thursday at about 9:30 a.m. and went home for the day at about 4:30 p.m. They are scheduled to return Friday morning.

Cellini, a longtime Springfield lobbyist and Republican fundraiser, is on trial on federal fraud and attempted extortion charges for allegedly trying to extort a campaign donation in 2004 for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to keep his power over a state pension board.

Later Thursday, Zagel blocked a request by jurors for access to numerous slides that had been shown in the courtroom during closing arguments. None had been formally entered as evidence, he explained.

asweeney@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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