Ex-Illinois Governor heading to trial for corruption, fraud

Ex-Illinois Governor heading to trial for corruption, fraud

[JURIST] Former Illinois Governor George Ryan [Wikipedia profile], who made national headlines and won praise in some quarters in January 2003 when just before leaving office he commuted the executions of all Illinois inmates then on death row [CNN file report; Ryan speech], will go on trial [defense website] Monday in Chicago on 22 counts of corruption and fraud [indictment, PDF; US DOJ press release, PDF]. The charges against him stem from a bribes-for-licenses scandal originating in the Illinois Secretary of State's office which Ryan occupied for 8 years before running for Governor in 1998. When the scandal broke during a federal investigation called Operation Safe Road [US DOJ materials] it made it him virtually un-reelectable, prompting him to step aside in 2003. Ryan's former campaign manager and chief of staff is already serving a six-and-a-half year prison term and is expected to the lead-off witness against Ryan, who has vigorously denied any wrongdoing. The trial is already being billed as a battle between legal heavyweights [St. Louis Post-Dispatch report], pitting leading defense attorney Dan Webb against Patrick Collins, a rising star in the Chicago prosecutor's office. AP has more.