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Federal judge upholds Illinois ex-governor Ryan's fraud convictions

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] on Tuesday upheld the convictions [opinion, PDF] of former Illinois governor George Ryan [JURIST news archive], refusing his request for early release. In September, Ryan asked Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to vacate his prison sentence [JURIST report], following a recent US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] decision. In June, the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Skilling v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the "honest services" doctrine [18 USC § 1346 text] is not unconstitutionally vague under a limited construction of the statute. Ryan argued that under this new "honest services" precedent, he should be released from prison and his convictions for mail fraud and for violations of the Rackteer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) [18 USC § 1961 et seq.] should be thrown out. Pallmeyer rejected his argument, finding that his case was distinguishable. Ryan is currently serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence [JURIST report] in federal prison on corruption charges and is scheduled for release in July 2013 [FBP materials]. His attorneys plan to appeal [AP report].

In 2008, Ryan issued his first public apology [JURIST report] for the crimes that resulted in his imprisonment. He was jailed [JURIST report] on corruption charges in 2007. Ryan's trial began in 2005, and, in 2006, a jury found him guilty [JURIST reports] on multiple counts of corruption and fraud [indictment, PDF] in connection with a bribes-for-licenses scandal that occurred during Ryan's term as Illinois Secretary of State. Ryan made national headlines and won praise in some quarters in January 2003 when, just before leaving office, he commuted the executions [BBC report] of all Illinois inmates then on death row.

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