Breaking: Former Governor George Ryan Will Not Be Home For Christmas

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Former Illinois governor George Ryan will not be released from prison, according to NBC Channel 5 in Chicago.

From the Sun-Times:

Former Gov. George Ryan once gained worldwide attention for commuting the sentences of hundreds of prisoners, but he failed to win the same benefit today.

A federal judge has denied Ryan’s early release from prison, despite pleas from his ailing wife, Lura Lynn.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced her decision in a written ruling at noon.

The 76-year-old former governor has served three years and one month of his 6 1/2-year prison sentence for corruption.

His lawyers have pleaded with the judge to release Ryan early, citing his wife’s ill health.

In her ruling, Judge Pallmeyer rejected arguments from Ryan’s legal team that Ryan’s conviction should be overturned because there was no proof Ryan received any money, which Ryan’s attorneys argue must be necessary to uphold the bribery charge:

As the case law cited by the Supreme Court reflects, a showing of bribery need not include direct quid pro quo exchange; two of the three cases cited by the Court as examples of honest services bribery rest on a "stream of benefits" bribery theory. In a Third Circuit decision upholding a conviction for public corruption, the court approved jury instructions that explained, "where there is a stream of benefits given by a person to favor a public official, . . . it need not be shown that any specific benefit was given in exchange for a specific official act. If you find beyond a reasonable doubt that a person gave an official a stream of benefits in implicit exchange for one or more official acts, you may conclude that a bribery has occurred."

The judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence of a "bribery scheme":

Ryan’s main argument relating to the sufficiency of the evidence is that his activities, even taken in the light most favorable to the government, fail to establish a bribery scheme of the type required for conviction by Skilling. As discussed above, Skilling imposed limits on the theory of honest services mail fraud, but it did not impose a requirement that the government prove an explicit quid pro quo. A bribery scheme can rest on a "stream of benefits," "course of conduct," or "retainer" theory of bribery. As the jury was instructed in this case, whether benefits or gifts were given with the intent to influence Ryan’s exercise of office can be inferred from the evidence presented. In evaluating Ryan’s post-trial sufficiency argument, this court observed that "[t]he government introduced a great deal of evidence of Ryan’s acceptance of gifts and benefits." Warner, 2006 WL 2583722, at *6. The court need not repeat every charge examined in the harmless-error analysis it has just engaged in, for the evidence that Ryan took official actions favorable to Warner and Warner reciprocated with a stream of benefits is sufficient to establish bribery under Skilling. The evidence that Harry Klein paid for Ryan’s stays at his home in Jamaica, and that Ryan performed acts favorable to Klein, was also sufficient to establish a bribery scheme that included the award of the South Holland lease charged in Count Six.

Because the standard for harmless-error review is more demanding than the standard in a sufficiency-of-the-evidence inquiry, Ryan’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence of a bribery scheme necessarily fails. And, as explained earlier, the evidence is sufficient for a finding of pecuniary fraud, as well

The judge’s complete ruling is available here.