Fawell, self-confident and cocky in earlier testimony as a prosecution witness against his friend, teared up twice Tuesday when questioned about his fiancee, Alexandra Coutretsis.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer called a recess to allow Fawell, who is serving a 6 1/2-year sentence, to compose himself, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Fawell said he is testifying against Ryan, who is accused of taking bribes and giving campaign money to relatives, to keep Coutretsis out of prison and with her children. Coutretsis awaits sentencing on an unrelated fraud charge.
Fawell reiterated his contempt for the prosecution during defense questioning.
"You saw witnesses who got good deals from the government, and you believe they lied about you?" asked attorney Dan Webb.
"That was my firmly held belief," Fawell replied. "I know that happened."