Former lawmaker's partner admits funneling payoff cash

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

CHICAGO -- A business executive admitted Tuesday funneling $20,000 to a member of the board of Chicago's Metra commuter rail service in return for contracts for a company he owns jointly with a former lawmaker.

Robert Doyle, 63, pleaded guilty to a mail-fraud charge arising from an offshoot of the four-year federal investigation of drivers license bribery and other corruption when Gov. George Ryan was secretary of state.

Doyle could be sentenced to six to 12 months in prison under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that requires him to cooperate in the investigation.

Doyle is a minority shareholder in a direct-mail business, Midwest Compuservice, whose chief owner is former state Rep. Roger Stanley -- a major figure in the investigation. Prosecutors say Stanley -- who has contacts throughout Republican politics in Illinois and elsewhere -- fired Doyle in July after learning that his partner had been secretly tape-recording their conversations.

Stanley has pleaded innocent to paying $130,000 in bribes.

to Donald Udstuen, a top Republican strategist and former board member of the commuter rail service, in return for $4 million in Metra contracts.

Doyle told U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras that starting in 1996 he began paying bills submitted by attorney Stanley Stewart.

He said he did so on orders from Roger Stanley even though he knew that Stewart was not performing any legal work for Midwest Compuservice.

He said Roger Stanley told him the money was being forwarded to "the little guy" -- a name he used for Udstuen, who besides being the state's top medical lobbyist was until recently a top GOP strategist.

"I received invoices from Stanley Stewart and I paid him," he said.

"And you knew the legal work had not been done?" Kocoras asked.

"That's correct," Doyle said.

He said he assumed it was payoff money because Roger Stanley said "he owed it to the little guy -- he always called Don Udstuen the little guy."

Doyle admitted that later he was contacted by Stewart and told that federal investigators were looking into the payments. He admitted that he told Stewart to create bogus documents and promised to back up his story.

Unknown to Doyle, however, Stewart was already cooperating with federal prosecutors at the time and tape-recording their conversation.

It was a miserable day for Doyle not only because he pleaded guilty to a felony but because it came one day after he underwent surgery for skin cancer on his nose -- around which was wrapped a sizable bandage.

He left the courthouse as a television crew scrambled after him with a camera to get a shot of his face.

A sentencing date will be set later.

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