By Jamey Dunn
Former Gov. George Ryan is seeking to have some of the charges from his 2006 conviction on corruption thrown out based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling scaled back a category of fraud, which requires public officials to provide “honest services.” Prosecutors now have to prove that an official received a bribe, kickback or some financial benefit when failing to provide honest service to the public. Prior to the court’s decision, prosecutors often used the statute to go after officials and executives who engaged in corrupt acts, such as lying to shareholders or not disclosing a conflict of interest, even if it did not result in a tangible benefit for the accused.
The ruling would not apply to all of the former governor’s crimes, but Ryan’s lawyers claim it would apply to mail fraud and racketeering convictions. They have asked the judge who presided over his trial to consider tossing these charges. His lawyers say the time he has served would satisfy his sentence for the remaining charges of lying to the FBI and tax violations. They asked that he be released on bail while U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer considers their request.
The Illinois Supreme Court upheld Ryan’s conviction in 2008. He is serving his 6 1/2-year sentence in a federal prison at Terre Haute, Ind., where he has been since November 2007. He is due for release in 2013. His requests for a pardon from former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama proved unsuccessful.
Federal prosecutors tweaked some of the charges against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich shortly before his corruption trial to avoid the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on honest services having a possible impact on the case.