Longtime Ryan friend, two others indicted on corruption charges

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Associated Press WriterCHICAGO (AP) -- A longtime political adviser to Gov. George Ryan was indicted Tuesday on charges of using his influence over leases and contracts in the Illinois secretary of state's office to reap $2.8 million in profits, and sharing the proceeds with a powerful lobbyist.

Ryan friend and adviser Lawrence E. Warner was indicted along with Donald Udstuen, the former chief lobbyist for the Illinois State Medical Society. Also indicted was Alan A. Drazek, a Republican businessman who also sits on the Chicago Transit Authority's board.

The indictments are the latest charges in the federal governor's four-year investigation of corruption in the secretary of state's office under Ryan and in the governor's campaign. More than 40 people have been convicted in the investigation. Ryan has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Drazek, 61, of Morton Grove, a former director of personnel in the administration of the late Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie, was accused of helping to disguise illegal payments from Warner to Udstuen and keeping a portion for himself.

Warner, 64, of Chicago, is a longtime member of what Ryan aides describe as the governor's "kitchen Cabinet." He was charged with five counts of mail fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count each of racketeering, extortion and illegally structuring monetary transactions.

Udstuen, 58, of Crystal Lake, has long been one of the most powerful lobbyists in the state. Prosecutors said he is cooperating in the investigation and will plead guilty to tax fraud conspiracy.

The indictment asks the court to order Warner to forfeit $2.8 million along with his ownership interest in companies that own Joliet and Bellwood buildings leased by the secretary of state's office.

The Joliet building became controversial when it was discovered that the state would pay more than $2 million in rent -- 10 times the amount of the initial investment in the building.

The indictment also asks forfeiture by Warner of his shares in a company that licenses digital technology.

"The indictment alleges that Larry Warner fixed the process by which certain contracts and leases were awarded by the secretary of state's office for his own profit and the profit of others," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said that at the same time that Warner "was fixing the process for certain contracts, he extorted money from a company doing business with the state."

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