No `bomb' on Ryan, Fawell says
But his testimony appears to bolster prosecution case
Fawell broke down and had to pause to collect himself several times as he described how he reluctantly decided to cooperate with federal authorities in a bid to spare his fiance, Alexandra "Andrea" Coutretsis, from prison.
"As God is my witness, that's all I want," he said.
In a seeming paradox, Fawell, Ryan's former chief of staff in the secretary of state's office, contended he has no "bomb" to drop on Ryan.
Fawell, 48, spent much of the day offering damaging testimony about Ryan's role in doling out low-digit license plates, reorganizing his agency's own internal investigative arm and cutting a hidden consulting deal with the doomed presidential campaign of then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas).
Fawell wrapped up his testimony for the government and then came under cross-examination, telling Ryan's lead counsel, Dan Webb, that he believes witnesses lied in his 2003 corruption trial in order to work out better deals with prosecutors.Webb then asked Fawell if he believed he could have gotten a deal too if he "made up stories" before he went to trial."I just truly believe that from the bottom of my heart," Fawell said.
Fawell is serving a 6 1/2-year federal prison sentence for diverting state employees and resources to Ryan's campaigns. He was also convicted of bid-rigging when he was chief executive of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
It was the McPier scandal that led to Coutretsis' perjury conviction for lying before a grand jury.
Throughout Fawell's direct testimony, Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Collins drew him out about how Ryan used his office to cut his friends, and particularly his co-defendant Lawrence Warner, in on state contracts and leases.
But the moment Fawell was turned over for cross-examination, Webb wasted no time exploiting the perceived weak point in the government's case.
"During the years you and George Ryan worked together in the secretary of state's office, were you ever aware of anyone ever giving money to George Ryan to affect his decisions as secretary of state?" Webb asked.
No, answered Fawell, who for eight years worked closely with Ryan as a top aide. Webb hammered that point home with several more questions.
But during the hour Webb questioned Fawell, he focused most intensely on the immense pressure the prosecution's star witness feels at the hands of the government.
Webb repeatedly referred to Fawell's memorable line from earlier testimony: "You guys got my head in a vise, basically."
"Your huge fear was that [Coutretsis] might have to go to jail and be separated from" her two young daughters? Webb asked.
"It's still my greatest fear," said Fawell, who testified earlier that he loves Coutretsis' daughters as if they were his own.
Fawell displayed a roller coaster of emotions in his fourth day on the witness stand. Much of the day, he appeared relaxed and confident, mostly serious in tone but occasionally showing flashes of the levity and cockiness that defined his first day on the stand.
When Webb asked if the federal prison camp where Fawell has been incarcerated is somewhere in South Dakota, Fawell quipped, "Everywhere in South Dakota is somewhere in South Dakota."
But when Fawell testified earlier about Coutretsis, his eyes welled with tears and he had to pause.U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ordered a recess to allow Fawell to regain his composure. As jurors stepped from the courtroom, he hid his eyes from them.