- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Gov. George Ryan’s longtime top aide was sentenced yesterday to 6 years in prison for a racketeering scheme in which state employees and taxpayer dollars were used to fuel campaigns.

Scott Fawell, 46, his voice breaking with emotion, apologized to his politically prominent family before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer issued the sentence. He finally stopped and couldn’t go on.

“I would like to say I’m sorry for the pain this process has caused my family,” Fawell said, trying to collect his emotions. “And thank them for their love. I would like to express my regret for the actions I took that were the focus of this case.”

The judge turned down prosecutors, who asked her to impose a sentence of more than 11 years on grounds that Fawell disrupted state government through a series of corrupt acts. She also rejected a request from Fawell’s defense for a break on grounds that what he did has been common in Illinois politics for decades and no one told him he could be prosecuted for it.

Fawell, 45, was convicted of racketeering and other offenses at a seven-week trial in March. It was the biggest case to date in the five-year federal investigation of corruption under Mr. Ryan.

Sixty-three persons have been charged so far and 57 convicted.

Mr. Ryan himself has not been charged, but he decided not to seek a second term and left office in January.

Witnesses said at the trial that Fawell, working as Mr. Ryan’s chief of staff and campaign manager, used state workers and taxpayer dollars to fuel Ryan’s campaigns and pressured employees for campaign contributions.

Witnesses also said Fawell got free vacations from a contractor, shredded campaign documents and even billed taxpayers for the shredder.

Jurors disregarded defense attorney Ed Genson’s claims that underlings largely were to blame and that Fawell didn’t know of their crimes.

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