Stuart Levine created a sensation at one of those earlier trials
when he admitted to regularly gorging on cocaine, crystal
methamphetamine and other drugs at a time he served on several state
boards -- sometimes aboard chartered planes and in all-night
sessions at hotels.
Levine began testimony Wednesday at the trial
of William Cellini, once known as the King of Clout for his
influence in Illinois politics. Prosecutors set up his testimony by
calling an FBI agent to tell jurors how investigators in 2004
wiretapped Levine's phones. Prosecutors said he is heard talking to
Cellini about the attempted extortion.
Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors called Blagojevich's former
campaign finance director to counter defense claims that Cellini had
little to do with the former governor. Kelly Glynn said Cellini, a
Springfield Republican, hosted a campaign fundraiser for the
Democrat in 2002 that exceeded its $300,000 goal, and later raised
tens of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich after he became
Cellini, now 76, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with Levine
and two Blagojevich insiders -- Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly -- to
withhold state pension money from the investment company of the
Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" unless he
contributed $1.5 million to Blagojevich's campaign.
Levine sat on the board that controlled pension funds for the $30
billion Teachers' Retirement System. He has cooperated with
prosecutors in hopes of a reduced sentence for scheming to squeeze
$7 million in kickbacks from companies seeking state business.
Cellini's attorneys have already tried to discredit Levine, in
opening statements as well as in the cross-examination of other
witnesses, by broaching his drug history.
In 2008, Levine was also the star witness at political fundraiser
Antoin "Tony" Rezko's fraud trial, where Levine gave an
embarrassing, detailed account his drug use.
Court papers from that trial cited workers at Levine's office
hearing snorting sounds coming from Levine's inner office and found
bloody tissues. He admitted on the stand that he got nosebleeds from
ingesting as many as 10 "lines" of powdered drugs a night into his
nose through a straw. Some of the drug parties started in midmorning
and continued overnight, Levine testified then.
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At Rezko's trial, defense attorneys argued that Levine's brain
was so badly cooked by years of drug use that he couldn't recall
what happened years before.
Levine testified at Rezko's trial that most of his drug sessions
were in the Purple Hotel in suburban Lincolnwood. Some also were in
some of Chicago's swankiest hotels, including the Four Seasons, the
Drake and the Swiss Hotel.
Levine also testified three years ago that he spent $20,000 a
year on drugs through much of the decade, but he refused to budge
when Duffy suggested it was more. Levine did say he cashed "in
excess of $1 million" in checks between 2000 and 2004, with no way
to show what happened to the money. But he said he gave large gifts
to family and friends, including "drug friends."
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