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Former Gov. George Ryan's right-hand man wiped away tears Thursday as he told a federal judge he does not want to testify against his former boss but will help prosecutors to keep the woman he loves out of prison.

"My love for Andrea outweighs my disdain for this system," Scott Fawell testified as his fiancee, Andrea Coutretsis, smiled at him.

Fawell was called as a witness at a hearing to determine whether Coutretsis should get a break when she is sentenced for lying before a grand jury about corruption in the Illinois secretary of state's office under Ryan.

She pleaded guilty last December under an agreement with prosecutors that calls for a year in prison. Prosecutors now want a judge to cut that to six months in return for her help in persuading Fawell to cooperate.

Fawell, 47, is now expected to be a key witness if Ryan goes to trial on racketeering charges, probably early next year. The charges grew out of a 6 1/2 -year investigation that initially centered on the paying of bribes for driver's licenses and expanded to a variety of corruption under Ryan.

Fawell was Ryan's chief of staff in the secretary of state's office.

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