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Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse his racketeering and fraud conviction, claiming he did not receive a fair trial.

Ryan's lawyers said in a petition to the court that the trial judge replaced two jurors with alternates after deliberations in the case had already begun.

"The manipulation of the jury's composition deprived the petitioners of the fundamental right to a fair trial by an impartial jury," Ryan's petition said.

The jurors' opinions on the case were already known when trial Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer replaced two of them for omitting mention of their police records on pretrial questionnaires, the petition says.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Ryan's conviction, erred in not seeing that the jury irregularities ruined any chance the trial would be fair, the petition read.

The petition asks the Supreme Court, which turns away most appeals, to consider the case.

A message left at the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on Wednesday night was not immediately returned.

The Supreme Court may be the last stop in the long quest by the former governor to get out from under his conviction and the 6 1/2-year sentence he is serving in a federal prison.

Ryan, who turns 74 next month, was convicted of steering lucrative leases and contracts to lobbyists and cronies in exchange for valuables ranging from vacations in Jamaica and Mexico to a free golf bag. He was also convicted of using state workers and money to run his campaigns and of quashing an investigation into bribes paid in the secretary of state's office in exchange for drivers licenses.

Joining Ryan in the petition was businessman Larry Warner, who made millions of dollars in state leases and contracts from the secretary of state office Ryan held before being elected governor.


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