Judge Rules Ryan Will Stay In Prison

UPDATED 12/21/10 6:47 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A judge has ruled that former Gov. George Ryan will stay in prison, denying a request by his attorneys that he be allowed to go home to be with his ailing wife.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer denied the request, which also asked that part of Ryan’s sentence be vacated.

Read The Ruling Here

The attorneys’ grounds for Ryan’s release were both his wife’s ill health, as well as doubts about his conviction on anti-fraud laws that are considered vague.

Ryan was convicted and sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in 2006 for giving out state contracts and leases in exchange for political kickbacks. He reported to prison three years ago.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

But his defense attorneys filed a motion requesting his release so he can be with his ailing wife, Lura Lynn Ryan, who is suffering from terminal lung cancer and is believed only to have months left to live.

“All she wants is a chance to be with her husband again in her last days, and we’re very hopeful that the judge will rule in our favor,” Ryan’s attorney, former Gov. James Thompson, said by phone from Paris on the CBS 2 News at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

In court earlier, prosecutors said they are sympathetic to Lura Lynn Ryan’s plight. But they also argued a family member’s poor health isn’t normally a deciding factor in whether to release an imprisoned defendant and that the ex-governor shouldn’t get special consideration.

In addition to having Ryan released, defense attorneys also wanted parts of the former governor’s conviction thrown out. Recently, Thompson argued the Ryan’s mail fraud conviction should be voided.

Defense lawyers have called the anti-fraud laws the case is based on “too vague.”

They say the “honest services” laws are used as a last resort of prosecutors who lack evidence to prove money is changing hands in corruption cases, a claim with which the U.S. Supreme Court largely agreed in a June decision.

If the mail fraud and racketeering convictions against Ryan had been vacated, that would have left only tax fraud and false statement counts, for which defense attorneys say Ryan has already served more than enough time. Thompson said the sentences for those counts were enhanced by the mail fraud conviction.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller Reports

But, in her decision, Judge Pallmeyer ruled the case of George Ryan, a public official, was different from the Skilling case that prosecutors argued was grounds for the request for dismissal. Pallmeyer ruled that Ryan’t conduct fell into the solid core of honest services fraud.

George Ryan’s attorney, Andrea Lyon, said, “We disagree with it strongly. We think she is wrong on the law and the facts.”

Thompson also disagrees.

“He’s in jail in part for conduct that is not a federal crime. Now that’s unconstitutional,” Thompson told Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller.

Thompson says time is very precious to Mrs. Ryan, and that she is frantic she is not going to be able to see her husband before she dies.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole says Ryan’s family in Kankakee was hoping he would return home for Christmas, and they are devastated.

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller earlier said he expected Ryan would be released.

“Even though this jury may have been instructed incorrectly because the law changed, she believes they would have come up with the same verdict,” Miller said. “And because they came up with the same verdict, the verdict should stand and the sentence should stand.”

Ryan’s defense attorneys are expected to issue an appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Former governor Thompson says he hopes Ryan will be released on bail while the court considers the case.

If that doesn’t happen, Thompson says they plan to ask the Federal Bureau of Prisons for a furlough so Ryan can be with his wife of more than 50 years in her final days.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov, and Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger and Steve Miller contributed to this report.

  • JeanSC

    Someone on another station suggested Ryan be given a hiatus from his prison sentence so he can spend time with his ailing wife. After she has passed away, he would be sent back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence. During this hiatus, of course, the legal proceedings will continue and presumably reach a conclusion as to how much more time, if any, he should spend in prison. This seemed like the fairest solution to me.

    • kate

      fair to whom? you or ryan? if you do the crime, you must do the time! no matter who you are? get it!

      • JeanSC

        Please re-read my Comment: “to serve the rest of his sentence.” Fair to whom? To his wife.

    • Levonte chavis

      the fairest solution is for him to stay in jail he committed a crime no matter how hanus he is in jail, I’m sure people that serve time lose people in there life that they are close to often, why should he be any different this is ridiculous that we are even talking about it.





    • Jamie Rausch

      I totally agree with you Bill.

  • Jamie Rausch

    I know a young man whose mom was dying and he had a choice to see her alive or dead. He only had 6 months left on his sentence. And he was only allowed a half hour with her. Why should George Ryan be treated different? Because he was Govenor? He should have thought about his wifes health then. DON’T DO THE CRIME IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME!!!!!


    The State of Illinois is in disarray because of crooked govenors like him. If he is released early what does that say about our Judicial System?? If you’re going to release one crook for family medical issues then you should do it for others.

    • Roberta Waker

      Our judicial system sucks, or don’t you realize that yet? There are more crooks running around outside of prison than there are inside. The murderers and rapists serve less time than Ryan. Don’t punish his wife; show some compassion for him and any other human being who has made a mistake. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  • Katie

    He is not a threat to anyone. Why not just put ankle bracelet on him. It cost more money to keep him there. His wife is sick, I give my prayers and toughts to the Ryan family and freinds. This judgement is very wrong. We can let felonys out who have harm people to harm again, (which they have done) but not a man who is NO Threat to anyone.

    • jmg

      Tell that to the Willis family.

    • kate

      lets not forget he is now a felon! and if special treatment is given to him then let us turn all the others out that has terminally ill relatives as well? and yes, i feel that it could be a flight risk as well?

  • FR

    Don’t forget that the judge threw out a juror because she was the only one voting innocent. By trowing out innocent votes, the government can convict anyone of anything.

    • Roberta Waker

      Judges withhold pertinent evidence all the time in criminal trials, in civil trials; it’s what they do to help the defense attorneys. My daughter got the shaft years ago when a drunk driver almost killed her and my grandsons; the judge would NOT allow it to be brought out that the man was drunk and the jury wasn’t smart enough to figure out that if the police officer or defendant didn’t testify, something was wrong. So much for justice. She didn’t get enough to pay her medical bills.

    • B.

      You are exactly correct. And we are like fools sitting back, knowing our entire government is a fraud and doing nothing about it.

  • TIM

    Thank God that the judge didi the right thing.Let George stay werew he belongs.

  • Raymond Donahue


  • Karen Madsen

    Fmr. Gov. Ryan should have thought of all the possible repurcussions and detriment to his family AND we the people of the State of Illinois BEFORE committing his crimes. Our justice system at all levels is too darn soft. Man up already! No means No.

  • Ann

    I think the Judge made the correct choice. Why should he be treated any different than anyone else.

  • DES

    I want to know whose executive decision it was to interrupt the Y & R for this nonsense? It could have waited for the 5 p.m. news if anyone wanted to hear it!

    • kate

      exactly! interrupting our soaps?

  • Jen Zak

    Ryan has not expressed an ounce of remorse for his crimes, why because then he could not continue to appeal his judgments, that was Ryan’s choice, now deal with the consequences of your actions ALL of them Mr Ryan

  • Bill

    I Guess what make me sick about this whole thing is President Bush could have made this thing go away 2 years ago, did you know between our last two presidents persons granted clemency or giving pardons are in the area of around 330 during their days in office. People like Mel Reynolds (piece off Sh– ) durg dealers bootleggers people of have committed mail fraud, people like Bob F. Griffin, former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, who was serving two years on bribery charges, people like Henry Cisneros (former HUD Secretary) or even people like Isaac Toussio who gave False statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, mail fraud; revoked one day later. I know Gov Ryan and many of you also have meet him and his wife, he was a good man who did a lot for the people of great state, this is a joke and I am deeply sadden he will not be able to spend time with his wife in her last days.

  • B.

    This whole situation is a real joke. The government is trying to make Gov. Ryan sing on his buddies and what they did. Ryan did not give out licenses to bad truck drivers, He was in charge of a large office of people, and he has taken the fall for what someone else has done.
    He should be allowed to go home and spend his wifes last days with her. but the government thinks by making him stay in jail during this trying time, he will start to sing about others in governmental positions that are doing wrong, and maybe get others put in jail as well.
    The real reason behind this whole thing is, Gov. Ryan let blacks out of jail, and the elites of this state did not like it, so the only way to get back at Gov. Ryan is to keep him locked up. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

  • B.

    You better believe that some heads will roll when Gov. Ryan is finally released from prison. And if it’s after his wife dies, he is going to be so angry that his wife died without him being at her side, he will really make some heads roll in this State of Illinois.
    Gov. Ryan knows a lot of dirt, and he has been quit up until now, but this is going to bring the lion out of him if his wife dies while he’s locked up in prison.

    • Roberta Waker

      Maybe he can get rid of some of these crooked judges too. I feel sorry for Lura Lynn as she did nothing wrong. Why can’t he be given a furlough or wear a bracelet and then go back to serve his time after she dies? Anyone, other than a murderer, rapist, or pedophile deserves some compassion.

  • CS

    How nice that George Ryan wants to be with his dearest when she dies, just like the parents of the Willis children did.

    • B.

      Ryan did not personally give the license to the driver that killed the Willis children.
      People have been killed since Ryan left office, and under Jessie Whites watch, there are still drivers on the roads in large trucks that are not qualified to drive.
      But no one has put Mr. White in jail because of it.

  • streamwoodbill

    Former Governor Thompson is a CREEP! He knows that Ryan is a crook, but of course the almighty dollar and power always tries to influence things. Thompson is a jerk and we all know what he is about. This was his angling to try to get this felon out of jail. Let him rot in jail until he is due to be parolled.

    TO BAD SO SAD! Merry Christmas Georgie. Can you tell I loathe this man?!

    • jessdecristo

      your 110% on the money billy, counted are the real honest polititians, and in this case, there are none, except the judge that took a stand to give the willis family justice.

  • streamwood bill

    B. Former gov Ryan will make NO HEADS ROLL. He is no longer in power. If he could make heads roll, then why is he waiting? OOOOHHHH, me scared!

    • B.


  • jessdecristo

    Boy, are most polititians synical and hyphochrist as hell or what ? When Tompson and Webb were prosecuters, they could had cared less about letting one of their detainees out to spend x-mas with a dying family member.
    If it was you or me, they would laugh HO HO HO! Like the song says; ” don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, don’t go to bed with a price on your head, don’t do it “. Ryna wanted to spend x-mas with his lady, that’s very noble, but what about the entire family of the preacher that get rear ended by a trucker that got his license through Ryan’s clout ? WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE FOR HIM. I SAY TO THIS JUDGE ; ” BRAVO YOUR HONOR, FOR DOING THE RIGTH THING ! AMEN BROTHER

  • george

    i will say it again, this man is a stone cold criminal. if anything, the state should try for a longer sentence. people who steal from the voters should think about being in prison when their family dies.

    • Roberta Waker

      Almost every politician has stolen something from the voters. Our President is taking away freedom after freedom, our “representatives” are taxing us until our backs are breaking, they’re taking money from seniors and Social Security; they’re stealing jobs from Americans and sending them overseas. Do you know ANY politician that isn’t guilty of stealing something from the people? Didn’t think so.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/12/21/ryans-family-calls-ruling-a-cold-heartless-decision/ Ryan’s Family Calls Ruling A ‘Cold, Heartless Decision’ « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] The ruling that George Ryan was to stay in prison was obviously not what they hoped for, and the family is taking it hard. […]

  • jay lanew

    cold evil world u all has done wrong its nobody perfect

    • Average Guy

      You are right nobody is perfect. But, those who commit crimes should go to jail.

  • Bill

    The Willis family forgave Gov Ryan back in 2006 so let’s stop bringing that into this because if we were to ask them what they think FOR SURE IT WOULD BE YES let him go. Every Governor the state of Illinois has ever had has done the same thing, you people act as if he was driving that truck. I keep hearing people say If you or I had done the same thing we would still be in prison, Bull S—t, you have sex offenders drug dealers and MURDERS out on early release every day wake up people, I can only hope this will pull at Obama a bit and he make the right move and let him out, I’m not saying this is a great man what he did is wrong I get it the government has made its point, now let him go.

    • Average Guy

      No, Obama should not pardon Ryan. What would it say to all those people who did not commit any crimes but did the time? Some may have been executed, some died in prison, and some have been released. I sure they all had loved one who got sick and/or died while they were incarcerated. This man committed a crime and should do the time.

      • Roberta Waker

        Why not pardon Ryan; he already allowed his illegal aunt to stay in the United States illegally and we are supporting her with our tax money for her free medical, free housing, free food, free, free, free. What’s the difference? His aunti is a criminal but Obama isn’t doing anything about it. His aunt feels we OWE everything to her. Does that make her presence in this country right? Hell no.

  • Bill

    Lets talk Mel Reynolds if Bill Clinton commuted the sentence of Mel Reynolds! What is the difference then, was that alright? He was only convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography Clinton let him out, ARE U KIDDING ME where do you draw the line. He is a old and beaten down man who has lost everything, he has done a lot of good for this state lets have compassion for him and the years of good service he has done. Let him go.

  • streamwoodbill

    Whether the Willis’s forgive this felon or not, that is not relevant! This piece of cr@% should rot in jail until he pays for his crimes. This has nothing to do with Obama. It is about a corrupt politician just like Blago. He was our governor and he violated our laws. Off with his head !

    I hope his wife does not die, but that too is not relevant.

    I praise the judge who did the right thing, I hope obama doesn’t cave in and let this rat out of jail!

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