St. Louis Public Radio News
9:03 am
Wed March 19, 2003

Former Ryan Aide, Campaign Found Guilty of Corruption

Chicago, IL – A federal court jury has found a top aide to former Governor George Ryan guilty on all counts of corruption charges stemming from the eight years Ryan was Illinois secretary of state.

Forty-five-year-old Scott Fawell is the top official to be convicted thus far in a five-year federal investigation. He was chief of staff to Ryan in the secretary of state's office and his campaign manager in 1998.

The jury also found Ryan's campaign committee guilty on all counts.

The jury deliberated for six days and part of a seventh before reaching today's verdicts.

Fawell and the Citizens for Ryan campaign committee were charged in a nine-count indictment with a racketeering conspiracy that included using state employees working on state time to run Ryan campaigns for almost a decade.

Also yesterday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed a man to head the state's Terrorism Task Force who testified at Fawell's trial.

Mike Chamness currently heads the state's Emergency Management Agency, but he used to work for George Ryan when he was Secretary of State.

Chamness recently testified under immunity that he helped sell political fundraising tickets on state time.

Blagojevich defended the appointment, saying "we're just very impressed with what Mike Chamness brings to the job." The governor added: "I'm just not going to allow politcal considerations to stand in the way of keeping our state safe."

Chamness will leave IEMA and, in his new role, help coordinate with law enforcement, emergency personnel and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on various security issues.