Archive for Friday, September 30, 2005

Former aide to governor takes witness stand

September 30, 2005

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— The political strategist who helped engineer former Gov. George Ryan's rise to power took the witness stand Thursday and in testimony laced with wisecracks began telling a jury how Ryan doled out state contracts, leases and favors to the well-connected.

Scott Fawell waved to spectators and grinned broadly as he took his seat. He nodded to Ryan, saluted a newspaper reporter and made no effort to disguise his disdain for the prosecutors who put him in federal prison for graft.

Ryan, 71, is charged with racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and other offenses. Prosecutors say he doled out contracts and business to political insiders in exchange for cash, free vacations and other favors while he was Illinois secretary of state in the 1990s. He is on trial along with his lobbyist friend Larry Warner.

Fawell served as Ryan's chief of staff in the secretary of state's office and masterminded Ryan's campaign for governor in 1998.

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