Scandal Moves Closer to Ill. Gov.

Wednesday, July 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — A bribery scandal involving the sale of drivers licenses came a step closer to Gov. George Ryan with a new indictment of a man who had been his top investigator.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that Ryan, when he was secretary of state, personally summoned a whistleblower to a meeting with investigator Dean Bauer. According to prosecutors, the meeting became part of an effort to cover up corruption in the secretary of state's office.

The account of Ryan's call was contained in a fresh indictment against Bauer by a federal grand jury in the 2-year-old investigation of fixing truck-driving tests by selling licenses. Ryan ran the secretary of state's office for eight years before being elected governor in 1998, and Bauer was his inspector general.

Bauer is scheduled to stand trial in November on federal charges of scheming to cover up scandals in the secretary of state's office to save the Republican governor from political embarrassment.

The new indictment added another racketeering count — refusing to investigate the corruption charges brought by the whistleblower — to charges already facing Bauer.

Thus far, 37 people have been charged in the investigation, including five newly indicted on Tuesday; 28 have been convicted. Federal prosecutors say $170,000 of the bribe money paid to drivers license officials went into the Citizens for Ryan campaign fund.

Prosecutors said Ryan called the whistleblower — an unidentified employee of the DeKalb drivers licensing center — after she went on television with her face obscured and complained about corruption in the secretary of state's office.

Ryan did not attend her subsequent meeting, in February 1998, with Bauer and was not accused of wrongdoing. But it is the first time prosecutors have said Ryan was personally involved in any event they have looked at in their investigation.

Prosecutors said Bauer lied to the whistleblower and told her that the matters she complained of would be investigated.

Ryan spokesman Dennis Culloton stressed that the governor was not accused of wrongdoing. He wouldn't say whether Ryan called the whistleblower, but said Ryan ``always has encouraged employees to come forward with allegations of corruption or wrongdoing.''

Bauer attorney Edward Genson declined to comment.