Ryan trial goes on hold

Ryan trial goes on hold

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 CHICAGO - George Ryan's corruption trial abruptly went on hold Thursday after his co-defendant took a nasty fall outside a downtown restaurant and was rushed to a hospital.

Larry Warner, 67, a longtime friend of the former governor, fell on the sidewalk a block from the courthouse while the trial was in recess for lunch, attorneys said. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial hospital where he was listed in good condition Thursday.

Attorneys said Warner was bleeding when he was taken to the hospital.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer recessed the trial until Monday.

Earlier, a former state investigator testified that Ryan was called immediately after lawmen found evidence in a March 1993 raid that drivers licenses were being exchanged for campaign money at the Libertyville drivers licensing station.

Mark Lipe testified that Ryan's family friend and hand-picked inspector general, Dean Bauer, made the phone call no more than two minutes after a raiding party found cash, political fund-raising tickets and other evidence in the manager's office.

"Mr. Bauer went out into the counter area of the facility and used the telephone to make a telephone call," Lipe testified. He said Bauer was holding some of the evidence in his hand.

Lipe said he overheard Bauer's conversation. "Linda, this is Dean - I need to speak to George," he quoted Bauer as saying. He said he backed off to give Bauer privacy but later asked if he had called Ryan and Bauer said he had.

Ryan, 71, who was secretary of state at the time, and Warner are charged in a 22-count federal indictment with racketeering, mail fraud and other offenses. Much of the evidence concerns Ryan's tenure as secretary of state before his 1998 election as governor.

Ryan and Warner say that nothing they did was illegal.

Prosecutors say Ryan lied to federal agents when he denied Bauer told him about the evidence found when lawmen swooped down on the center in Libertyville.

Lipe said his assignment as one of the lawmen who swooped down on the Libertyville center was to secure the regional manager's office and gather any evidence.

He said he went through the desk drawers in the manager's office and found 300 plastic seals designed to prevent the issuance of bogus drivers licenses.

Lipe said the seals should not have been in the manager's office and aroused his suspicions. He said he also found a sheaf of drivers license tests, some of which appeared to have been partially completed.

Also in the desk was a briefcase that contained an envelope with Citizens for Ryan ticket stubs, receipts, $2,500 in cash and 65 tickets to the upcoming April 26 fundraising event planned by Ryan's campaign organization, Lipe testified.

The envelope was marked with the notations "300 tickets" and "$30,000," Lipe testified.

Lipe said he summoned Bauer to the office and "called his attention to the envelope and said, 'There's something here you might want to see."'

"I'll handle this," he quoted Bauer as saying after taking the envelope.

Lead prosecutor Patrick M. Collins asked Lipe how soon afterward the raid Bauer called Ryan.

"Not more than one or two minutes," Lipe said.

Lipe was the third of three consecutive witnesses who were agents in the inspector general's office under Bauer and testified that he prevented them from doing what they considered to be a good job. All three said the mission of the office was to protect Ryan, not embarrass him.

The office is to investigate possible criminal activity on the part of secretary of state's employees.

Lipe said that after working under Bauer for two years he transferred to the secretary of state's police because he was dissatisfied with the management of the inspector general's office.

Bauer eventually went to federal prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and admitting that the government could prove that he had spent seven years covering up scandals in the secretary of state's office to spare Ryan personal and political embarrassment.

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