Locals on Fawell 'master list'

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112854180512701.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.democracyinaction.org’, ‘Former Gov. George Ryan’s corruption trial features a list his top aide Scott Fawell began compiling in 1991. Some local politicians, lawyers and judge appear onthe “master list." Ryan was indicted in December 2003.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112854183716969.jpg’, ”, ‘Dave Syverson’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112854186217285.jpg’, ”, ‘Paul Nicolosi’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112854187617285.jpg’, ”, ‘Dave Winters’);

Corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan highlights clout list used to track political favors

Several influential politicians, lawyers and a judge are among the locals that appear on Scott Fawell’s “master list” that he used to track political favors performed by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office during the 1990s. Fawell is the star witness in the corruption trial of former Secretary of State and Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Most locals on the list are familiar names connected to the Republican Party. However, former Democratic representatives of the 67th District Douglas P. Scott and Edolo J. “Zeke” Giorgi also appear on the list. Giorgi died in October 1993, and Scott is the former mayor of Rockford.

In addition to Scott and Giorgi, the following Republican Party members appear on Fawell’s clout list: State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-34); State Rep. Dave Winters (R-69); Winnebago County Board members John Sweeney (R-14), W. Timothy Simms (R-14) and Tom Owens(R-1). Also on the list are former Winnebago County Republican Central Committee chairmans Seven G. Vecchio and Mary J. Gaziano.

Vecchio is currently an associate judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Gaziano is an attorney in private practice. Her name appeared 19 times on Fawell’s list, which was five more times than local runner-up Giorgi, who was named 14 times.

What the list means

The Ryan corruption trial began last week in Chicago. Federal prosecutors accuse Ryan of helping award state contracts to cronies, and in return, Ryan allegedly received cash, gifts and vacations. Prosecutors also allege Ryan was aware of the list, which was used by Fawell to dole out state contracts and track efforts to help elect Ryan to state office.

Fawell began compiling the list in 1991.

Although prosecutors emphasize that being named on the list does not necessarily imply any wrongdoing, the existence of such a list suggests state officials were “putting together a system of extortion,” according to Cindy Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Canary made her comment in a Feb. 1, 2003, article published in the Daily Herald.

“People need to ask themselves: ‘Why do you keep a list?’ You keep a list of favors because you want favors back. …When it becomes formalized like this, it’s not favors. It’s putting together a system for extortion,” Canary said.

Fawell was Ryan’s top aide during the time Ryan was head of the Illinois Secretary of State’s office from 1991 to 1999. Ryan was also Illinois governor from 1999 to 2003. Fawell’s testimony and list is considered by prosecutors as being critical in their case against Ryan.

The list is 555 pages, and has hundreds of people from around the state named that Fawell believed received help from the Secretary of State’s office.

The corruption trial is the result of a federal investigation that has origins in a licenses-for-bribes probe, which was launched after a fatal truck/car collision in November 1994 on I-94 near Milwaukee. After the 1994 incident, questions were raised in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the accident victims’ family about how truck driver Ricardo Guzman obtained his Illinois commercial driver’s license.

Ryan’s Secretary of State’s office was responsible for issuing the license to Guzman.

Syverson and Sweeney

Syverson said his name likely appears on Fawell’s list eight times because he allowed individuals to use him as a job reference for positions with the state that he said required a “test from CMS,” which is known as Central Management Services. CMS is a state agency that screens applicants for state jobs.

However, Syverson said one position did not require such a test. That position was awarded to Sweeney as the regional manager for the Secretary of State’s office. Page 503 indicates Syverson sponsored Sweeney for the position with a date listed as “4/12/94.”

Neither Syverson nor Sweeney knew the significance of that date. However, Syverson said: “I supported and recommended him for the job.”

Sweeney didn’t know why he appeared on the list, but said: “I was regional facilities director for the secretary of state’s office.”

Among the allegations that surfaced after Ryan’s tenure as Secretary of State was that employees in the Secretary of State’s office were alleged to have performed campaign work on behalf of Republicans while being paid by the State.

However, Sweeney denied he ever performed such services on state time.

When asked whether he ever did campaign work on state time, Sweeney responded: “No, I didn’t.”

Syverson also sponsored his mother and four other local people in obtaining state jobs, one vanity license plate and one Ryan campaign contributor named Kathleen M. Gummow of Rockton.

Of 20 total campaign contributions personally made by Gummow, 17 were given to Ryan’s campaign between 1994 and 1998, which totaled $3,360.

Gummow said she was surprised to learn she was on Fawell’s list, and was at a loss to explain why her name was associated with Syverson.

“I was very shocked to find out I was on the list. …I honestly don’t know why I’m on there. …I worked for Syverson, and was very active in politics in the late 1980s until about 1997,” Gummow said.

When asked if she thought she owed any favors to the Secretary of State’s office, Gummow said: “I was asked to be regional manager in the Secretary of State’s office, which I started in 1984.”

Gummow said she curretly holds another state job with the Department of Personnel. She described herself as a “moderate Republican” and “independent thinker.” In addition to working to elect Syverson, Gummow said she also campaigned for Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16, Egan). She is currently a Rockton Township supervisor.

It’s snowing money

Winters is named three times on the list for being the recipient of campaign funds from Ryan and sponsoring two low-numbered vehicle license plates.

State campaign records show Winters’ campaign received $10,000 from Ryan’s campaign war chest on Oct. 4, 1996.

Winters did not return repeated messages for comment.

Republican chairman

Like Syverson, Gaziano also speculated she may have appeared on the list 19 times because she allowed people to use her as a job reference. Gaziano was Winnebago County Republican Central Committee chairman for nearly 12 years before stepping down in 2003.

According to Fawell’s list, all of Gaziano’s sponsorships involved obtaining state jobs or promotions for existing state workers.

One person Gaziano sponsored was Winnebago County Board member Tom Owens, who was controversially appointed Sept. 8 to fill his brother Dennis Owens’ vacancy on the County Board. Owens was recommended for the vacancy by County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen.

Owens’ name is associated with the cryptic notes: “POLICE” and “AUTO PARTS-DECLINE.”

Owens could not be reached at his home for comment. Gaziano could not explain Fawell’s notes on Owens.

Gaziano also sponsored the wife of retired 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Galyn W. Moehring in obtaining a management position with the local driver’s license facility. Moehring retired from his judgeship on Dec. 31,1998.

Like Gaziano, Vecchio is also a former Winnebago County Republican Central Committee chairman, and is currently a 17th Judicial Circuit judge. Vecchio helped individuals obtain state jobs and a salary adjustment for one person.

He referred questions concerning his six appearances on Fawell’s list to Todd A. Schroeder, trial court administrator for the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Schroeder e-mailed a response for comment that reads: “Supreme Court Rules, which include the Judicial Canons of Ethics, state that ‘a judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court. …’ [T]herefore, it would not be appropriate for a judge to comment on any aspect or possible piece of evidence related to a pending case.”

Special plates and businesses

Scott appears on the list four times for

helping individuals obtain special vehicle license plates. Scott currently heads the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency—a position he was appointed to earlier this year from his political and personal connections to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Scott needed the job because he lost Rockford’s mayoral election in the spring to Independent candidate Larry Morrissey. Before Scott was mayor, he was state representative in the 67th District from 1993 to 2001. Scott was appointed to that position after the October 1993 death of Giorgi, who also appears 14 times on Fawell’s list.

Giorgi sponsored requests for employment, a promotion and special license plates. Among those who made special plate requests were Rockford attorneys Frank Vella, and Philip A. Nicolosi, who died Jan. 19, 2001.

Documents from Northern Illinois University indicate Giorgi once worked for the now-defunct Midwest Distributing Company in Rockford. Midwest Distributing was partially owned by Chicago Mafia member William Daddano Jr., according to a Nov. 24, 1964, Chicago Tribune article.

FBI documents show Rockford has historically been a branch of the Chicago Mafia, which is known as the “Outfit.”

Nicolosi was the founder of the law firm Philip A. Nicolosi and Associates, whose son Paul S. Nicolosi was business partners with alleged Mob soldier Salvatore “Sam” Galluzzo in the development firm Buckley Partners LLC.

FBI documents obtained by The Rock River Times show that Galluzzo purchased former Rockford Mob Lieutenant Sebastian J. Gulotta’s Rockford home in 1971 during a time Gulotta was reportedly having financial difficulties in connection with his alleged legal and illegal gambling activities. Galluzzo moved into the home shortly after purchasing the property, according to the FBI file.

Gulotta died March 15, 2000, in Arizona.

Galluzzo was also business partners with alleged Mob hit-man Frank G. Saladino in Worldwide General Contracting Inc. Saladino was found dead in a rural Kane County hotel room in April.

During Ryan’s term as governor, owners of Buckley Partners—Nicolosi, Galluzzo and Galluzzo’s brother Natale Galluzzo—were recipients of at least two state contracts. The contracts were detailed in the June 22-28, 2005, issue of The Rock River Times.

One of those contracts was between the Illinois Attorney General’s office and Buckley Partners, which leased office space for the attorney general’s regional headquarters at 7230 Argus Drive in Rockford.

In addition to being part owner of Buckley Partners, Paul Nicolosi is also the attorney for the City of Loves Park and Village of Rockton.

The Nicolosis and Buckley Partners were frequent contributors to Republican campaigns, including those of Winnebago County Circuit Clerk Marc Gasparini, Syverson, Winters and Christiansen. In recent Rockford mayoral races, they also contributed to the Dennis Johnson, Morrissey and Scott campaigns.

Page 244 of Fawell’s list indicates Chicago Mafia boss Tony Accardo and his wife received special plates through the sponsorship of union labor leader Earnest Kumerow. The Chicago Tribune reported Jan. 31, 2003 that Kumerow was Accardo’s son-in-law, who resigned as head of the Laborers’ Union in 2003 after an investigation of his alleged ties to organized crime.

Accardo died in 1992.

Former State Sen. W. Timothy Simms is listed once as receiving a vanity plate for his vehicle in March 1995 in connection with his service as a state senator. Simms was state senator during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is currently the Republican majority leader on the County Board.

Simms did not return a message for comment for this article.

Fawell’s testimony is expected to continue for several weeks.

To view Scott Fawell’s 555-page "master list," visit the Chicago

Sun-Times at: http://www.suntimes.com/special_sections/fawell/.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2005, issue

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