Ryan Visited Wife In Intensive Care

UPDATED 01/07/11 4:42 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Gov. George Ryan was taken out of prison this week to visit his ailing wife, federal prosecutors revealed in a court filing on Friday.

The visit came and went on Wednesday evening without anyone knowing about it, until prosecutors revealed it in court papers Friday morning in a response to Ryan’s request for bail while he appeals his fraud convictions.

Ryan is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. His wife, Lura Lynn Ryan, is suffering from sepsis resulting from cancer treatments and has anywhere from hours to at most a couple of weeks to live.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, officials at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee – where Lura Lynn is being treated in intensive care – would not give specifics as to how Ryan entered the hospital, only saying he didn’t use the front door.

A hospital spokesperson described the visit between Ryan and his ailing wife as “very solemn.”

The unannounced visit took everyone in Ryan’s camp by surprise.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

“I’m at home Wednesday night and, out of the blue, I get a call from his son who says in a rather shocked tone, ‘Dad’s here!’ I said, ‘Dad’s where?’” Thompson said Friday. “’He’s at the hospital. They just took him in.”

Thompson said Lura Lynn drifted in and out of sleep during the visit, but she spoke to her husband and recognized him.

Ryan’s children and grandchildren saw him in the hallway. They exchanged a brief hello with him. The family was not allowed to visit with him, as he was taken into the room to be with Lura Lynn.

Thompson said neither he nor the family were told that Ryan had been taken out of prison to visit Lura Lynn in intensive care. But he said he talked to Ryan by phone after he returned to prison. He said Ryan is grateful to authorities for the chance to see his wife.

“We’re grateful to the prison for the two hours, obviously. The family’s grateful. Mrs. Ryan I’m sure grateful. I’m sure it was therapeutic for her,” Thompson said. “But she remains in a grave condition and we’ve asked for bail to allow him to be at the bedside during this really horrible time.”

Following Ryan’s two hour visit, he made a point of showing his gratitude to the hospital staff.

Riverside Medical Center spokesman Carl Maronich said, “as he left, he thanked everybody and … went out of his way to make sure he found the nurse that was giving care and thanked her.”

Ryan’s visit to see his wife in the hospital came on the same day his attorneys filed an emergency motion with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to have him released from prison on bail, while the court hears an appeal on his corruption convictions.

Just before 10 a.m., prosecutors released a 15-page response to the motion, arguing the court should reject Ryan’s request because his attorneys haven’t shown his appeal is likely to succeed.

While Ryan’s attorneys have said “absent bail, Ryan is very unlikely to see his wife again,” federal prosecutors said in a filing on Friday that Lura Lynn’s failing health should not be a factor in the court’s decision.

“Although the serious medical problems suffered by his wife are truly unfortunate, they do not warrant special treatment with respect to bail pending
appeal in the context of post-conviction proceedings,” prosecutors wrote.

They also pointed out that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons granted Ryan a trip to Kankakee to visit his wife at the Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, where his wife is being treated. He visited with Lura Lynn for about two hours, from about 7:30 p.m. to 9:40 p.m., according to prosecutors.

“Thus, through normal prison procedures, Ryan has been able to visit with his wife,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say releasing Ryan on bail to be with his wife would constitute special treatment.

Ryan’s attorney, former Gov. James Thompson, took a swipe at prosecutors for disclosing the visit, calling it “pretty shabby.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

In their own filing on Friday, defense attorneys accused prosecutors of trying to use Ryan’s visit to the hospital “as a weapon to deny Ryan’s request for bail.”

Ryan’s attorneys said they were told the hospital visit, under prison escort, was supposed to be secret.

“The government this morning violated the policy, the same government that set the policy,” Thompson said. And said he believes it was a deliberate attempt to chip away at sympathy, now that Ryan has spent time at his wife’s bedside.

A two-hour mercy visit, he said, can’t be compared to Ryan getting released on bail.

“It’s not the same thing and for the government to do that this morning in their filing, I think, is pretty shabby,” Ryan said.

In a second filing on Friday, federal prosecutors defended their decision to reveal Ryan’s visit on Friday. They said they discussed the matter with prison officials before they made their filing and prison officials signed off on disclosing the visit.

Patrick Collins, the chief federal prosecutor in the Ryan case who now is in private practice, said he had no issue with allowing the hospital visit.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

“I have no issue whatsoever with the Bureau of Prisons decision to allow a visit to a dying spouse,” Collins said.

Collins said he had no objection with present prosecutors bringing up the hospital visit in argument against Ryan getting an appeal bond. He said he U.S. attorney’s office has a responsibility to bring up all circumstances it feels are relevant to the issue of bail .

Ryan’s attorneys are also asking the Bureau of Prisons to give him a furlough from incarceration so he can be at his wife’s bedside. The attorneys have suggested that he could stay at the Kankakee County Jail at night so he can be with Lura Lynn during the day.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer denied a request to release Ryan early, while his conviction is appealed.

  • Stephanie

    I bet those parents who lost their 6 children would have liked to have time to say goodbye to them. I’m sure at the time those children were dying, the Ryan’s were enjoying the money they made off selling the license to that driver who didn’t deserve to drive as he didn’t pass the test on his own merit. I know this might seem cold, but we all make choices in life and when we don’t make good choices as a community we have to have consequences to safe guard as many in the community as possible.

  • Jim

    On the taxpayers dime I’m sure. Criminals are more privledged than hard working taxpayers!

    • antiryan

      of course,he was escorted by more than 1 government paid employees.

  • Sameera Leola

    What’s the old saying? If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime? He broke the law. He’s no different than anyone else. Or maybe he is. He was in a position of authority and violated his oath of office and, because of his actions, exposed the public to danger by putting unqualified drivers on the road. Do your time, Ryan.

  • FR

    Hey Stephanie,
    Those kids died because a back bumper bar fell off of a truck. It didn’t matter which unluckey driver was driving it.

    • darren smeets

      Hey FR, you’re an idiot.

  • Ron Reale

    Here is a guy, a non-violent offender, who has been married for many years. Yes he made a mistake and is serving time for it. No one is asking he does not serve his time., but if his wife is dying, can’t he be there to comfort her and then continue to do his time, with the hours spent added on to his sentence?
    Ron Reale



    • Vicky

      I was thinking the same thing. Now any prisoner with a sick relative should get the same treatment. What makes this criminal sp special?

  • Linda Shelton

    I am innocent and my father died on 9/7/10 while I was jailed in Cook County Jail for doing the legal act specifically allowed by IL law 735 ILCS Art X and the United States Supreme Court and constitution, that is filing a next-friend petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of an innocent whistle blower being held in Cook County Jail without probable cause in retalitation for her giving evidence to the FBI that Lisa Madigan is doing some likely illegal acts.

    I was not even allowed to talk to my father by phone for the 4 mo prior to his death except for a few minutes once and not allowed to visit him before his death and then they took me to the funeral home for a private viewing only when my family paid $400.

    In the van outside the funeral home the guards ripped my religious materials and letter I wanted cremated with dad out of my hands and stomped on them on the floor. When I was brought into the room and started crying they removed me after only a few minutes.

    Ryan is guilty and got better treatment – 2 hrs with his live wife.

    Don’t give him special treatment!

    • Vicky

      Put the guards names up on here….tell us who the miscreants are.

  • trish

    Another politician gets special treatment…..when does it stop? Better yet, when will the general public wake up. Will the media provide the same coverage for just “anyone” in prison who wants to visit a dying relative?

    • Vicky

      Better yet, on the taxpayer’s dime. ILLANNOY…..puke. :P

  • poppie

    Yes, there is a special claus in our system, that for none violent people that they can go with permission. They are rules, and controled situation, but yes other people have been able to have emergeny furlo may be for a few hours, like Ryan. Only for non- violent people. I am glad he got to see his wife to say good by. Our system dose work.

  • Mr Voter

    hope …..every prisnor is now treated like king george….thanks to the strings “big jim ” pulled….who payed for this him thought he was broke!……he should have stopped off to vist the Willis kids that his greed killed…..
    IL. Land of Corruption……….

  • who cares

    he got his visit,its over…

  • Sgt Friday

    let the old sea hag croal now….sick of seeinfg her pus and them whining to get the courrupt felon out…don’t do the crime if you can;t do the time….

  • me

    I think he should not have been able to visit her. The time he is serving is nothing, compared to not spending time with and not being able to say goodbye to someone you love so much. That would be his greatest punishment.

  • upset and disturbed

    Our government officials wonder why people do horrific act like the terrible act in AZ this past weekend. Our society is getting fed up with the special treatment govornment constituants recieve. The only justice is for the privleged. The law should read justice for the few priveleged excluding the rank and file tax paying citizen. But rember the public is getting fed up!!!

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