Federal court denies ex-Illinois governor's appeal

Associated Press Modified: August 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012
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CHICAGO (AP) — A federal court in Chicago on Monday denied George Ryan's latest appeal seeking his release from prison, dashing what was widely regarded as the former Illinois governor's last credible hope to cut short his 6 1/2-year sentence for corruption.

Even though the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals complex, 16-page ruling didn't go in the 78-year-old Republican's favor, he doesn't have too much longer to wait behind bars. He is scheduled to finish serving his sentence at a Terre Haute, Ind., prison in mid-2013.

Ryan was convicted of steering state contracts and leases to insiders as secretary of state and then as governor — receiving vacations and gifts in return. He also was accused of stopping an investigation into secretary of state employees accepting bribes for truck driver's licenses.

Last year, the same court rejected arguments that prosecutors never proved at Ryan's 2006 trial that he took bribes. But the U.S. Supreme Court in April took issue with how the three appellate judges reached their finding and ordered them to decide again.

In doing that, Monday's opinion addresses the legal language employed by the sides at Ryan's trial and concludes that — whatever terms were bandied about — jurors clearly believed prosecutors proved Ryan took bribes.

Defense attorneys had argued that gifts and vacations Ryan received from people who later got state business were based on friendship, weren't an exchange for financial benefits and, therefore, weren't bribes.

One of several examples cited in Monday's ruling was a $3,185 check written by a lobbyist to pay for a band to play at the wedding of Ryan's daughter