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Corruption Chronicles

George Ryan Trial, Part 5

Today was the third day for Harry Klein to be on the witness stand. Klein has been given immunity for testifying for the government against Ryan. Based on his performance the last two days, I think that the government should rethink its grant of immunity. We have looked at bank records and some records of business dealings Klein has had over the past 12 years.

Klein gave a good impression of somebody who has lost his memory. At one point, he even forgot a meeting he had with government lawyers in August of 2005. Klein also said he did not remember the name of defense attorney, Dan Webb, even though he had been questioned by him for two days and heard name over and over in the court while on the witness stand.

The government painted a very good picture of Klein paying off Ryan with annual trips to his house in Jamaica and Palm Springs. Ryan would pay Klein $1,000 per trip by check and then Klein would graciously pay Ryan back with cash. Webb tried to point out that while there were records of the Ryan checks to Klein, there were no records of where Klein got the cash to pay back Ryan. We had to take the word of Klein that these payments were actually made.

Klein admitted that he carried thousands of dollars in cash while on the vacations. Klein, in turn, received a lucrative rental agreement from the state of Illinois for $600,000 over 10 years. In previous years he was lucky to get $1,000 per month for the same property if he was to get paid at all. It also showed how Klein, who owned 25 currency exchanges in Chicago, was able to get a rate hike for Secretary of State transactions in his currency exchanges. Scott Fawell, Ryan’s former campaign manager, had previously described these transactions to the jury.

Lead prosecutor Collins told Judge Pallmeyer that he objected to some statements that Webb had interjected in the midst of his questions. For example, after insinuating that Klein was lying about the cash payments for 30 minutes, Webb said, “I am not trying to imply that you are lying, but just trying to get to the truth.” Judge Pallmeyer did not admonish Webb, stating that she thinks that the jury is smart enough to see for themselves what is going on.

Klein is obviously a very wealthy man based upon his tax returns. The amount of gains for 3 properties ran well over $100,000 per year.


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