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Ex-Gov. Ryan loses another bid for early release from prison

George Ryan | AP

George Ryan | AP

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Updated: September 8, 2012 6:09AM



Former Gov. George Ryan’s longshot — and likely last — chance to get out of prison early was denied Monday by an appellate court in Chicago.

Lawyers for Ryan, who is nearing the end of his 6 1/2-year prison sentence for corruption, had argued last month that prosecutors had failed to prove he took bribes. But in a 16-page ruling issued Monday, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed,

denying the 78-year-old Republican’s appeal.

The appeals court previously had rejected Ryan’s arguments for overturning his 2006 convictions but was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in April to take another look at Ryan’s arguments, saying it should consider whether the instructions given to jurors in Ryan’s corruption trial were flawed in light of another high court ruling dealing with an arcane legal issue known as honest services fraud.

This time, Ryan’s attorneys argued that he accepted favors from friends ­­—not bribes, and prosecutors failed to prove he took bribes, as the honest services fraud law requires.

The court disagreed, saying “the jury must have found bribery and not just a failure to disclose a conflict of interest.”

Ryan and his attorneys, including former Gov. Jim Thompson, had said they hoped a favorable ruling could have led to his release from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Ryan is nearing the end of his sentence. He is due to be released next July, and this was widely seen as his last chance to get out of prison early.

His lawyers had argued that the gifts and vacations he took from people who did business with the state amounted to “a friend doing a favor for a friend,” in the words of Ryan attorney Albert Alschuler, and not bribes.

Ryan was convicted of crimes that included steering state contracts and leases to political insiders during his tenure first as secretary of state and then as governor, and taking vacations and gifts in return.



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