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Former Illinois Gov - guilty on all counts

Old 04-17-06, 12:32 PM
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Former Illinois Gov - guilty on all counts

(CBS) CHICAGO A federal jury in Chicago has found former Governor George Ryan and businessman Larry Warner guilty on all charges after a five-month trial in federal court.

A racketeering conspiracy charge included in the 22-count indictment carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The jury deliberated for ten days before returning its verdict, ending the state's biggest political corruption trial in decades.

Ryan was charged with running state government for the profit of his friends, family and himself, and with trying to cover up a bribes-for-licenses scandal that ultimately led to his indictment.

The verdict comes nearly three weeks after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer dismissed two jurors for allegedly lying about their criminal records. The judge denied the defense's request for a mistrial.

After adding two alternates to the panel on March 28, Pallmeyer instructed the six women and six men to start over as though two weeks of deliberations had never occurred. The initial jury began deliberating on March 13.

The trial, which included testimony from 77 witnesses, lasted 23 weeks.

The indictment alleged that for more than a decade, as secretary of state and then governor, Ryan took payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for letting associates profit from steering government contracts and leases. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, making false statements to investigators, tax fraud and filing false tax returns.

Prosecutors alleged that Ryan gave lobbyist and co-defendant Larry Warner all but free reign to see that leases and contracts in the secretary of state's office went to Warner's clients and that cash collected from state vendors and landlords was then funneled back to Ryan.

Warner was charged with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, extortion and making illegal financial transactions.

Defense attorney Dan Webb said there was no proof that Ryan ever took bribes. Ryan, who was a dedicated public servant and a humble former pharmacist, had no savings and couldn’t even afford to re-decorate his Kankakee home, Webb said.

The defense claimed the contracts and leases Ryan approved were good for taxpayers and the trips and cash he received were simply gifts.

Ryan, 72, a Republican known worldwide as a leading critic of the death penalty, gradually became the focus of the corruption investigation that began even before his 1998 election as governor. The growing scandal was a factor in Ryan's 2001 decision not to seek a second term.

The charges grew out of the federal government's Operation Safe Road, which initially focused on bribes exchanged for drivers licenses but over seven years expanded into a full-blown investigation of political corruption when Ryan was secretary of state and later governor.

In November 1994, a Wisconsin expressway fiery accident killed six children of the Rev. Scott and Janet Willis. The accident has been blamed on a truck driver whose license may have been obtained with payoff money from a woman raising Ryan campaign funds.

That incident touched off the federal license for bribes probe that eventually led to Ryan’s indictment.

Ryan's campaign committee has been found guilty of racketeering along with his former campaign manager and chief of staff, Scott Fawell, who is now serving a 6 1/2-year sentence.

Ryan, an old-school politician, was elected to five terms in the state House before serving two four-year terms as secretary of state beginning in 1990.

He was elected governor in 1998, but retired after just one term as the so-called licenses-for-bribes scandal grew.

While his popularity plummeted in his home state, Ryan was winning widespread praise nationally and internationally as a leading critic of capital punishment.

Ryan declared a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois after it was discovered that 13 wrongfully convicted men had been sent to death row.

In January 2003, just before leaving office, he pardoned four condemned prisoners and commuted the death sentences of 167 others to life in prison.

Critics accused Ryan of using the death penalty issue to deflect the scandal arising from the disclosures of corruption. Supporters nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ryan is the third Illinois governor indicted in the past 40 years. Otto Kerner, who served from 1961-1968, was convicted of bribery. Dan Walker, who served from 1973-1977, was convicted on charges related to financial dealings after he left office.

Racketeering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; mail fraud and making false statements to authorities are punishable by up to 5 years in prison; tax fraud and filing a false tax return are punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Ryan is married to his childhood sweetheart, Lura Lynn Ryan. They are the parents to six children, five daughters and one son. They have 13 grandchildren.

He better go to prison.
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Old 04-17-06, 12:41 PM
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I'm thankful for what he did with the death penalty in our state, but this guy was a crook. He'll probably die before he ever sees the inside of a prison cell, though.
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Old 04-17-06, 12:47 PM
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I find this extremely shocking! They couldn't pick a jury without having two jurors with criminal records?
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Old 04-17-06, 01:16 PM
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Silly guy, he picked the wrong state to be governor of. All he had to do was move to NJ. All that crap is perfectly legal here.
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Old 04-17-06, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by X
They couldn't pick a jury without having two jurors with criminal records?'s Chicago.
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Old 04-17-06, 01:37 PM
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Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy who is leading the Plame investigation is one of the guys responsible for getting Ryan put away.

As I stated in one of the Plame related threads:
While in that capacity he led investigations against Republican Governer George Ryan, democratic aides of Richard Daley, and current Illinois Governer Rod Blagojevich, also a Democrat.
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Old 04-17-06, 02:27 PM
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He's investigated 88 Republicans and 4 Democrats(or something like that).

And, I agree that he should be in jail(Ryan).
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Old 04-17-06, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I find this extremely shocking! They couldn't pick a jury without having two jurors with criminal records?
Your not a true Chikahgoan without a criminal record.
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Old 04-18-06, 01:17 PM
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bhk said:
"He's investigated 88 Republicans and 4 Democrats(or something like that).
And, I agree that he should be in jail(Ryan)."

Yeah, but that's because the Reps are the ones committing most of the crimes!

JUST KIDDING! Wait, no I'm not!
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Old 04-18-06, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Rockmjd23's Chicago.
How many were dead?
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Old 04-18-06, 01:38 PM
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How many were dead?
And how many times did they vote.
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Old 04-18-06, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tcoursen
Silly guy, he picked the wrong state to be governor of. All he had to do was move to NJ. All that crap is perfectly legal here.

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Old 09-07-06, 04:13 PM
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Those of you outside Illinois might not have heard the news: our former governor was sentenced yesterday.

Ryan gets 61/2 years
Former governor carefully avoids admitting criminal wrongdoing

By Matt O’Connor and Rudolph Bush
Tribune staff reporters
Published September 6, 2006, 11:08 PM CDT

George Ryan, the Republican governor whose bold clearing of Death Row won international praise but whose old-style political ways led to a sweeping federal corruption conviction, was sentenced Wednesday to 6˝ years in prison on what he acknowledged was the saddest day of his life.

In court, Ryan, a former pharmacist from Kankakee, struggled briefly with his emotions as he delivered the closest thing yet to an apology. Ryan, however, carefully avoided admitting criminal wrongdoing.

The former governor told the judge he deeply regretted that his conviction caused a loss of faith in government, saying, "When they elected me as governor of this state, they expected better, and I let them down, and for that I apologize."

Ryan said his greatest anxiety concerned the impact his imprisonment will have on Lura Lynn, his wife of more than 50 years. "It's really very excruciating for both of us for that to happen," said Ryan, clearing his throat as he appeared to choke back emotion. "I am going to need a glass of water," he said.

As Ryan spoke, his wife wept and relatives passed a box of tissues among themselves.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer called Ryan "a very complicated human being" who as a public official did good things but who also damaged people's faith in government.

"The real harm done by public corruption is the confidence citizens have that their government is playing by the rules," she said. "Cynicism is inconsistent with patriotism."

Ryan was snared in an eight-year federal probe that exposed rampant bribery in state driver's license facilities while he was secretary of state. The investigation has been among the most successful in modern Chicago history in reach and significance, with 75 convictions.

Lawyers for Ryan, 72, had sought a sentence of 2˝ years in prison, saying they feared anything much longer could amount to a death sentence. He suffers from Crohn's disease and diabetes, they said.

Pallmeyer also sentenced Ryan's co-defendant and longtime friend, Lawrence Warner, to almost 3˝ years in prison on Wednesday. Warner also agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in ill-gotten profits.

In April, following a nearly six-month trial, a federal jury convicted Ryan of steering millions of dollars in state business to Warner and other friends in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits to Ryan and his family.

Ryan was also convicted of gutting corruption-fighting efforts and misusing state resources for political gain.

Ryan was the third former governor in Illinois history to be convicted of wrongdoing, all since the 1970s. Otto Kerner received 3 years in prison in 1973 for taking bribes while governor in the late 1960s; he was paroled after serving a year. Dan Walker was sentenced in 1987 to 7 years for bank fraud unrelated to his public duties but was released after 17˝ months.

At the request of defense lawyers, Pallmeyer delayed the date Ryan and Warner must surrender to prison until after Christmas.

Ryan still hopes to convince the judge that he should remain free until his appeal has been decided months down the line.

In his remarks in court, Ryan, in his booming baritone voice, spoke of his humble beginnings and said his father taught him that each generation had an obligation to make life better for the next.

Ryan also said his father told him that "there is no right way to do the wrong thing."

"I tried to practice my life with that in mind," Ryan said.

Saying he had a bit of a cold, Ryan declared that Wednesday was "without question the saddest day of my life."

But he forcefully added: "I am proud of the life I have had."

In 36 years of public office, Ryan said he had been steadfast in keeping "the trust that my constituents have placed in me."

He appeared to deflect blame on others by saying he had not been vigilant enough as secretary of state, the elected post he held before his one term as governor.

"The jury's verdict speaks for itself in showing that I simply didn't do enough," Ryan said. "Should have been more vigilant. Should have been more watchful. Should have been a lot of things, I guess.

"My charge in public office was to maintain and instill public confidence in the integrity of the government," he added. "I tried to do that, but I obviously failed."

Prosecutors weren't impressed with Ryan's tone. After the sentencing, Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Collins, the lead prosecutor in the federal Operation Safe Road probe, said Ryan "unfortunately remained defiant today."

"I was very much hoping ... if the judge was going to provide some mercy, it would be based on a heartfelt apology, and I didn't hear that," Collins said.

As he left the courthouse, Ryan's lead attorney, Dan Webb, again promised an appeal based largely on Pallmeyer's decision to dismiss two jurors during deliberations and bring in alternates to continue the trial.

The jurors were dismissed after Tribune reports that both had concealed arrest records during jury selection.

"Based on the jury deliberations, we are very hopeful that someday this conviction will be reversed and George Ryan will be vindicated and this conviction will be put behind him," Webb said.

Two Ryan jurors on opposite sides of the controversial deliberations had different opinions about the sentence.

Evelyn Ezell, who was kicked off the jury during deliberations for failing to reveal a history of arrests, said Ryan's sentence was unfair. Before she was removed from the jury, Ezell had been the sole holdout against Ryan's conviction.

"Six-and-a-half years is too much. It shouldn't be any years," she said.

Juror Denise Peterson, who deliberated through the verdict but came under scrutiny for bringing outside legal material into the jury room, said she thought Ryan would get more time than he did.

"I don't want to send anybody to jail, but he was totally guilty. The evidence was overwhelming," she said.

Pallmeyer rejected a government bid to stiffen Ryan's sentence for his scuttling internal investigations into the link between political fundraising and the selling of driver's licenses for bribes. Prosecutors contended the coverup risked death and bodily injury.

As a result of the ruling, Ryan faced up to 8 years in prison, not 10 years, as prosecutors hoped.

Pallmeyer also dismissed two counts of Ryan's 18-count conviction, one for a fraudulent lease with Warner and the other for leaking the selection of a state prison site to a friend who improperly profited on the tip.

Prosecutors sought to have Ryan sentenced to a lengthier prison term than Scott Fawell, Ryan's former top aide, who is serving 6˝ years in prison, contending the former governor's conduct was more egregious.

Collins took issue with the contention in many of the more than 100 letters written on Ryan's behalf that Ryan had been betrayed by friends.

"He betrayed the public trust," Collins said of Ryan.

Collins also disputed many of the letter writers' contention that Ryan had displayed courage in public office, saying that was sadly lacking at several key junctures in his two terms as secretary of state.

Webb contended that Ryan had striven to do the right thing is his public life and cited his commutation of all Death Row inmates' sentences despite widespread public support for the death penalty.

Webb's voice broke with emotion when he said the greatest punishment Ryan faced was separation from his wife.

"It's going to be an enormous punishment on George Ryan," Webb said.

Following his sentencing Wednesday, Ryan was able to avoid a horde of reporters in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse lobby by being whisked through an underground entrance.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said U.S. District Chief Judge James Holderman ordered the measure.

At Ryan's side throughout the afternoon was his longtime political ally, former Gov. James R. Thompson, whose law firm footed the cost of Ryan's multimillion-dollar defense.
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Old 09-07-06, 05:24 PM
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From the sound of it yesterday, if he just admitted he's a crook and apologized he would have got off with a lighter sentence.

It's too bad Pallmeyer wouldn't let Rev. Willis speak at the hearing.
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Old 09-07-06, 10:01 PM
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too bad he will end up in a country club prison.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:30 PM
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Maybe one day we will see his successor behind bars, too.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by B.A.
Maybe one day we will see his successor behind bars, too.
Maybe they'll wind up as cellmates. It would make a great sitcom.
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