George Ryan Trial, Part 7
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Several arguments have taken place outside the presence of the jury and it may be hard for the jury to figure out all the nuances associated with the Ryan corruption. Some of the jurors look to be taking scrupulous notes while others almost appear to be zoning out.
Judge Pallmeyer has ruled that there will be no time limits placed upon cross examinations, even though the trial appears to be heading well past the 6 month time frame. She indicated that she will monitor the time issue, but I have seen no indication that she is taking actions to speed up the trial. She continues to allow continual side bars, arguments that go on forever and never seems to make a definitive ruling. The cross examinations are lengthy with a lot of repetition. To the prosecution’s credit, they rarely object and do so only for egregious behavior on the part of defense lawyers.
Recent witnesses have shown how Warner, Ryan’s co-defendant, bought or invested in property through straw-persons and then schemed to have the property leased by the Illinois Secretary of State for much more than prevailing property lease rates.
Other government witnesses have shown that Ryan traveled around with $400-500 in cash with him all the time, and when on gambling excursions played for $25 or $50 per hand. The defense has attempted to show that Ryan was frugal and lived a modest lifestyle. Judge Pallmeyer has not allowed the defense to show that the Ryan defense team is working for free, which they feel would show that Ryan does not even have enough money to mount his own defense.
Government witnesses have shown that after Ryan became aware of the federal government’s investigation of him, he made amendments to his tax returns to show an extra $170,000 in income on one return and other amendments on other returns, which the government pointed out were also false. Ryan claims that he did not know the money he gave to his son-in-law out of his campaign fund needed to be reported as income.
Early in the trial phase, Judge Pallmeyer ruled that the wives of the defendants may attend court proceedings, which they have done, but that when testimony involves them, they must leave the courtroom. Recently Warner’s former secretary testified. During breaks on two occasions, Warner’s wife approached the witness and invited her to dinner and on another occasion tried to give the witness a hug. Prosecutors asked the judge to prohibit Warner’s wife from attending further proceedings, but Pallmeyer did not rule to exclude her. Apparently Pallmeyer bought the argument from Warner’s attorney, Ed Genson, that she did not know any better and only admonished Warner’s wife.
Another witness, Ryan’s former press secretary, has stated that in various conversations it was apparent to him that Ryan saw a large gray area between right and wrong, but then said he didn’t think Ryan was a “bad person” and that he probably didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong.
A former Ryan “kitchen cabinet” member, Don Udstuen, has testified for three days about how he hired the daughter and son-in-law of Ryan for the State Medical Society. Udstuen also testified that $77,000 was funneled through a friend’s office to him over a period of 8 years and that he was paid $4,000 in cash from Warner through another intermediary.
Udstuen testified that Warner told him that Ryan was okay with the kickbacks and that Warner would “take care of Ryan”. Udstuen also testified that at one point he decided that Ryan’s son-in-law no longer was needed and was proposing to let him go. Ryan became angry and told Udstuen that rather than fire him, he should be giving him a raise, which he did, $1,000 per month. There were lengthy arguments about whether the government would be able to ask Udstuen what “take care of Ryan” meant to him. Judge Pallmeyer ruled that the government could not ask that question
It is observed that the trial continues to move at a snail’s pace and there is no move to speed it up.