Aide to former Illinois governor testifies that lobbyist landed big contracts, raised campaign cash
CHICAGO – The onetime top aide to ex-Gov. George Ryan testified Monday that a lobbyist helped computer companies land millions of dollars in state contracts while raising political funds for Ryan.The lobbyist, Larry Warner, was careful to keep his name off campaign finance reports, Scott Fawell said in his second day on the witness stand at Ryan’s racketeering trial.Ryan, 71, and Warner, 67, are charged in the 22-count indictment with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and other offenses. Both men say that nothing they did was illegal.Fawell said Warner raised $100,000 at a dinner for Ryan while helping to land a $27 million digital imaging contract used in issuing drivers licenses and a $25 million contract under which the secretary of state’s office purchased a new IBM mainframe computer.Warner, a longtime Ryan friend, was adamant in saying he did not want his name on the fundraising reports that candidates must file with the State Board Elections, Fawell said.Fawell was Ryan’s chief of staff in the secretary of state’s office for eight years and the mastermind of Ryan’s race for governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year racketeering sentence for corruption in the secretary of state’s office and testifying for the government in hopes of avoiding even more prison time.Fawell told the jury that as soon as Ryan was elected secretary of state in 1991, he was warned that the mainframe computer the state used to keep track of drivers licenses would soon collapse.He said Don Udstuen, a former official of the Illinois State Medical Society and longtime Republican strategist, gave him the name of “an IBM guy” to serve as the computer expert in Ryan’s office. The man was later hired.Later, Udstuen told him that IBM lobbyist Bob Kjellander had called Udstuen “to get help to get business for IBM from the secretary of state’s office,” Fawell said. He quoted Udstuen as saying that Kjellander complained he needed the help “because George didn’t like him.”Kjellander, a member of the Republican National Committee, has been accused of no wrongdoing in the case. Udstuen has pleaded guilty to a tax offense and is expected to testify for the government against Ryan before being sentenced.Fawell also told how Warner was influential in landing a $27 million contract for his client, Viisage Technology Inc., to provide the state with a digital imaging system to store drivers license photos.Ryan’s lawyers sought Monday to bar testimony about his cross-country travels, such as a trip to Walt Disney World in an insurance tycoon’s plane, saying it would make the ex-governor look like “a high roller” with a lavish lifestyle.U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer allowed Fawell to tell jurors how Ryan and a group of his friends went to Florida to see a Chicago Bulls-Orlando Magic game and visit Disney World in the plane of Chicago insurance man Richard Parrillo.Parrillo later became the head of a fund created to help Ryan pay for his legal defense, although that was not mentioned at the trial.Vail, Colorado
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