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Court: Former Ill. Gov Must Go to Jail

  Breaking Legal News  -   POSTED: 2007/11/01 11:10

Saying it is time for former Gov. George Ryan to start his prison sentence, a federal appeals court denied his request Wednesday to remain free while he challenges his conviction on corruption charges. Ryan and co-defendant Larry Warner, who have been free on bond since being convicted in April 2006, were ordered to start serving their federal prison sentences Nov. 7. "Although they undoubtedly would like to postpone the day of reckoning as long as they can, they have come to the end of the line as far as this court is concerned," Judge Diane P. Wood wrote in a five-page opinion from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Later Wednesday, Ryan's lawyers took his fading hopes to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they asked Justice John Paul Stevens to keep Ryan out of prison while he asks the full court to step in.

"No jury trial is perfect — to be sure. But perhaps no federal trial has ever been as deeply and fundamentally flawed as this one," Ryan's attorneys wrote, saying his corruption conviction stemmed from chaotic and unfair jury deliberations.

Ryan's chief defense counsel, former Gov. James R. Thompson, acknowledged that getting the Supreme Court to set bond would be unusual.

Ryan, 73, has been free on bail since he was convicted in 2006 of steering state contracts to friends, using tax dollars to run his campaigns and covering up drivers license bribery.

The verdict capped one of Illinois' biggest political scandals, bringing with it nine years of investigations and trials that wrecked Ryan's career and sent dozens of others to jail.

"The voluminous record here demonstrates that the appellants were guilty of the crimes with which they were charged," Wood wrote.

Ryan and Warner had sought a new trial based on chaotic jury deliberations at the end of the trial. Two jurors were dismissed and replaced with alternates after the jury had deliberated for eight days. One juror brought an outside legal document into the jury room as a persuasive tool in defiance of the trial judge's instructions.

The appeals court said Ryan and Warner had shown no "reasonable probability" that the U.S. Supreme Court would take their case or reverse their convictions.

Ryan's wife, Lura Lynn, said when reached by phone at the couple's Kankakee home that her husband was not available. "We had not heard this," she said. "I have no comment."

Warner's attorney, Edward Genson, was not immediately available for comment, his office said.

Ryan has been assigned to the federal correctional institution at Duluth, Minn., a minimum security camp. But he is trying to get his assignment switched to the correctional center at Oxford, Wis.

Warner has been assigned to a federal prison in Colorado.


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