When feds pay a call, the smart people sing

When feds pay a call, the smart people sing

Now that the prosecution of former Gov. George Ryan is over, it's time for the high-level rats who jumped from Ryan's sinking ship to seek their rewards.

First, it was Scott Fawell, Ryan's former campaign manager and chief of staff. Appearing in federal court last week by closed-circuit television from his South Dakota prison cell, Fawell received no additional prison time after pleading guilty to a new corruption charge and a promise of a reduction in the 6-year prison term he is serving for a previous corruption charge.

This week, it was Richard Juliano's turn. Most Illinoisans don't know him. But Juliano once was Fawell's right-hand man, and a key player in Ryan's political machine. He enthusiastically participated in the corruption of Illinois government, but proved to be smarter than Fawell. Loyal to no one but himself, he agreed immediately to testify against his bosses when the feds came calling. Among Juliano's crimes, actions he considered standard practice in Illinois, were using state employees and resources to assist in Ryan's campaigns and accepting pay as a state employee while he attended law school.

Juliano proved to be a valuable witness, providing testimony crucial to the convictions of both Fawell and Ryan.

Juliano's reward was a sentence of four years of probation and an order to perform 350 hours of public service work. U.S. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer also ordered Juliano to serve three months in work-release, meaning that he will be confined to a federal facility on weekends and evenings.

But instead of being grateful for the slap on the wrist, Juliano was disappointed. His lawyer said his client had hoped for no jail time at all. How's that both for a sense of entitlement and a lack of awareness of the depth of wrongdoing to which he was a party? It's a perfect reflection of politics in Illinois.

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