Showing posts with label Ryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ryan. Show all posts

Monday, August 6, 2012

George Ryan's appeal denied by federal court

English: Former Illinois Governor George Ryan        Ex-Illinois Governor George RyanDespite his lawyer's best efforts, George Ryan, Illinois' disgraced governor, serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in federal prison, will not be leaving jail before next July when his sentence is concluded.

Ryan's lawyers, led by another former governor--James Thompson--filed an appeal based on the Supreme Court's ruling last year on the "honest services" laws. The laws, as applied to public officials holds that a public official stands in a fiduciary relationship with the public. Honest services fraud is committed by breaching those fiduciary duties in the course of that relationship. The laws relate to theft, accepting a bribe, or concealing a financial conflict of interest. In 2010 the court narrowed the fraud to bribery and kickback schemes.

Appealing Ryan's conviction was a long shot at best, and it is the last in a series of extraordinary efforts to keep Ryan out of jail. The legal wrangling commenced as soon as he was convicted in 2006.
To see more stories related to George Ryan, just type his name into the search engine at right!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

George Ryan wants to leave prison to visit critically ill wife

George RyanGeorge Ryan, the convicted felon that once served as Illinois' Governor wants to be released from prison to visit his gravely ill wife, perhaps for the very last time. A debate rages about whether or not Ryan should be allowed to leave the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN to travel to his home town of Kankakee to be by Lura Lynn's bed side.
There is no doubt Ryan is devoted to his wife of fifty years. He loves her and would like nothing more than to share her final moments with her.

While George Ryan's reality includes compassion for his wife, that compassion never spilled over onto the public for which he took an oath to serve. Instead, he governed with arrogance and ego.

Ryan's trying to get out of jail now is just one more in a long line of attempts to gain his freedom. When he was convicted of wrongdoing, another ex-governor—James Thompson—Ryan's pro-bono lawyer tried every available legal maneuver to keep Ryan from serving the 6 1/2 year sentence imposed upon him. Just a few weeks ago, Thompson tried to get Ryan released from prison to be with his wife. The judge ruled against it.

Ryan's initial sentence was based on a mere sampling of his deeds during his career as a public official. There is no way that all of Ryan's questionable actions could be presented in a court of law during his trial.

I know George Ryan. I recall once asking him a question, in my role as a news reporter for Ryan's home town paper. For a brief instant, he looked at me. I saw a cold, look of contempt in his eyes before he turned and walked away, dismissing me without acknowledging my presence. He didn't have to answer me. He was the governor. I was nothing more than a nuisance to him.

I've seen Ryan make decisions that hurt people. Ryan was the first to authorize the state tobuy land for a new airport near Peotone, one that even after 25 years, is not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and for which no regional consensus has or will ever be reached.

But to move the project forward, Ryan made a deal with a friend of his whereby the state department of transportation would buy the unsold lots in his high-priced subdivision, even though the property wouldn't be used for the project. The act of buying the first ground 'for the airport' even though it was later intended to be sold as unnecessary to the project, was enough to scare people into selling their land to the state. The airport wasn't needed, yet Ryan didn't flinch when people pleaded with him to end the airport nightmare that had been discussed since the 1960's. Some of those people suffered health issues not unlike those of Ryan's own wife. Yet, he didn't care about their plight. So many good people died trying to fight the scourge that he perpetuated. There was nothing they could do to protect the land that in some cases had been in their families for generations, because the big, bad, governor wanted to take it from them.

When George Ryan's actions were indirectly responsible for the death of the six Willis children, Ryan showed no remorse. Even if that accident wasn't Ryan's fault directly, it did shine a light on how Ryan ran the Secretary of State's office.

For me, direct blame isn't the issue. Ryan's attitude is the issue. He didn't care that two people had to bury their six children.

I'm genuinely sorry that Lura Lynn Ryan is so ill. Who knows if she is conscious, or if she would even know if her husband was by her bedside? In her near-death state, her mind will likely cause her believe he is with her. He doesn't need to be physically there.

George Ryan needs to pay the price—the complete price for his deeds. And that includes another three years in prison. He does not deserve special privilege.

Post script

Ryan did spent about two hours with his ailing wife, according to reports. The decision to allow him to be released from prison for that period was customarily assigned to the prison warden, and is not an uncommon occurrence.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ryan should stay in jail

English: Former Illinois Governor George Ryan
Ex- Illinois Governor George Ryan 
Ex-Illinois Governor George Ryan could be released from prison after serving only half of his 6 1/2 year sentence.

From my own personal association with George Ryan:  if anyone deserves to be in prison, George Ryan does.

His actions as Illinois Secretary of State resulted in the death of the six innocent children of  Scott and Janis Willis fifteen years ago. The children died in a fiery car crash that involved a truck driver who obtained his drivers license illegally. The investigation was covered up by Ryan's pals. Ryan took no responsibility and offered no apology. Willis called him arrogant. I agree.

After months of legal wrangling Ryan was finally carted off to prison, but not before his legal team tried every trick in the book to keep him out of prison. They sited his poor health and his wife's health. They even got him to remain free during months of appeals. All that time Ryan had one more gubernatorial perk, a 'get out of jail free card,' courtesy of his cost-free lawyer—another Illinois governor—Big Jim Thompson. 

Ryan was convicted after a seven month trial. He lost his pension even though Thompson fought hard for him to keep it. Justice was finally served. The only burden the taxpayers pay now, are George Ryan's food, clothing, and shelter. That is more than he did for many, despite taking an oath to serve the public.

Thompson will get one more chance to free his client, even if it is at the expense of the public.

In the latest turn of events, the U.S. Supreme Court revised the scope of the controversial 'honest services' law, one which has been criticized as being too vague. It has been revered by prosecutors but condemned by defense lawyers.

Earlier this week, Ryan's lawyers argued before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer that Ryan should be released from federal prison. They claim he may not have been convicted by a jury under the newly revised standards in the 'honest services' law related to mail fraud. Mail fraud was one of the charges against Ryan.

So marks another attempt by Ryan's lawyers, to spring Ryan from jail. The legal team has left no stone unturned in their attempt to keep the 39th Illinois Governor who is one of six to be convicted of corruption since the 1920's, out of prison where he headed in November 2007. Indiana. His own health has been cited, as well as that of his wife, Lura Lynn, as reasons for him to be released from prison. Attorneys have tried to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear it. This time, that could happen. While Justice Pallmeyer promises to rule quickly, she told the Chicago Tribune that the case would likely be appealed. 

Ryan was convicted Ryan April 17, 2006 for multiple violations of federal law, including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violations. He now resides in a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The charges against him were a mere sampling of Ryan's long tenure in public office. It is too bad the prosecution could not have delved even further, uncovering all Ryan's wrongdoing in the local, and state offices where he has served, including the Legislature, Secretary of State, and Governor. But that wasn't possible. For that reason, it would be unconscionable for Ryan to go free based on this change.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

George Ryan's ups and downs for freedom

The road to justice has been a long and winding one – both for convicted Ex-Governor George Ryan and the people of Illinois whom he defrauded.

A serious blow came to Ryan when President George W. Bush exited the White House without granting clemency for Ryan, the man who chaired Bush's Illinois campaign for President in 2000. This was despite a plea to the Ex-President from Ryan's wife Lura Lynn. Even Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin and an-other beleaguered Ex-Governor, Rod Blagojevich, asked for Ryan's release from prison, sug-gesting that his sentence be satis-fied by time served.

Ryan has served one year of his six- and one-half-year sen-tence after being convicted for a litany of corruption charges.

But, expect a new string of support letters to once again head toward 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Ryan's behalf. Jim Thompson, another Ex-Governor who is also the high-powered attorney who fought to keep Ryan out of jail for as long as possible, says he will ask Presi-dent Barack Obama for clem-ency for his client.

Thompson told WBEZ radio recently that President Obama has known Ryan since the two worked together in Springfield for a time. Thompson is prepar-ing a new application using the argument that Ryan's continued imprisonment doesn't appear to have deterred other politicians from corrupt activities.

RYAN'S PENSION

In conjunction with Ryan's 2006 conviction, he was stripped of his pension. It amounted to about $197,000 annually.

But the appellate court over-turned the circuit court, ruling earlier this month stating that Ryan could retain the pension he earned from public service prior to his terms as Secretary of State and Governor.

Ryan had also served in the state legislature and as lieutenant governor. According to the high court, he is entitled to keep about $65,000 annually.

But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was the first to argue that Ryan should not receive any of his pension, plans to appeal the decision.

At the time of his conviction, she issued a detailed opinion that the convicted felon should be stripped of his pension benefits.

Cook County Circuit Judge Martin Agran agreed with her. He upheld the unanimous ruling of the General Assembly Re-tirement System board that voted to deny Ryan his annual pension.

Madigan said at the time that Ryan forfeited all of his pension benefits, not merely those that accrued during the eight years that he served as Governor and Secretary of State. She also re-quested that he receive a timely and full refund of the contribu-tions he made to the system.

NOBEL PRIZE NOMINEE

There is at least one advocate of Ryan's deeds who has been consistent in his support. Uni-versity of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, who has long ad-vocated abolishing the death penalty, has placed Ryan's name in nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for the seventh time.

Boyle says his continuing nomination encourages aware-ness of the issue of capital pun-ishment. Boyle said 37 execu-tions occurred in 2008, a down-ward trend that began with Ryan's death penalty morato-rium.

Ryan did away with Illinois' death row in 2003 before leaving office.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

George Ryan sentence should stand

What are U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich thinking? Are they really considering asking President George W. Bush to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan?

Ryan was indicted in federal court on Dec. 17, 2003. The charges alleged that he accepted free vacations and other perks while doling out state contracts to lobbyist friends. Ryan was convicted on all counts against him April 17, 2006. On Sept. 6, he was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for racketeering, conspir-acy and fraud. Ryan reported to a Wisconsin prison Nov. 7, 2007. In February of this year, he was transferred to his present location -- the penitentiary in Terre Heute, Indiana.

George Ryan is not just an eld-erly man who spends idle time contemplating how he ended up behind bars, or how he could have done things differently. He is not just a loving grandpa and devoted husband, father, and brother, although he may very well be all those things.

It is what else there is about George Ryan that has put him in prison and should keep him there. He grabbed power from his position of authority and held the fate of people’s lives in his hands. He treated the responsi-bility that accompanies that power with little or no respect. I can attest that if you disagreed with George Ryan, you were treated with the utmost disdain. While he was good to his own circle of friends and those who could provide perks to him, he did not offer the same courtesy to everyone else.

George Ryan is a convicted felon, whose jail time is the re-sult of the justice system finally doing its job, despite climbing deliberately through every loop-hole available to circumvent it.

It mustn’t be forgotten that Ryan and his pro-bono legal team, led by one of the former governor boys’ club members, tried every angle to work the system in Ryan’s favor to keep him out of jail. This was despite George Ryan being the cause of pain, suffering, and even death in his routine dealings as Secre-tary of State and later as Gover-nor of the State of Illinois.

George Ryan treated Illinois as his own personal fiefdom and he has no regrets or remorse for his actions.

It seemed to take forever for Ryan to actually be sent to prison – many months after he was convicted and sentenced. To let him out of jail after serving such a short portion of his 6 ½ year sentence would, in my opin-ion, be a slap in the face of every Illinois resident. Similar senti-ments have been echoed by nu-merous newspaper editorials, surveys, commentaries and blogs. My voice is just one more in the mix.

Bush has granted 171 pardons and commuted the sentence of eight people during his eight years as president. The latest round came last month when Bush issued 14 pardons. Ryan’s name was not among them, nor should it be.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

High court rejects Ryan appeal, Bush pardon seen as last option

The curtain is about to fall on chances for freedom for ex-Governor George Ryan.

Short of a Presidential pardon, Ryan will remain in prison to serve his 6 1/2 year sentence for corruption. And that is just what is being considered by Ryan’s high-powered legal team led by ex-Gov. James Thompson.

Thompson is planning to ask President George W. Bush to commute Ryan’s sentence. This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Ryan’s appeal and that of Ryan’s co-convicted ex-business partner Lawrence Warner.

The pair was convicted April 17, 2006, of multiple counts of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violation while Ryan served as Secretary of State.

Ryan is expected to be released from prison in 2013, but with a Bush pardon, his release could be right around the corner.

Speculation is high about whether or not Bush would consider granting a pardon to the disgraced ex-governor. Some claim that Republican ties are strong enough to encourage such an act, yet others believe there is little parity between Bush and Ryan politics. The most stark example of that is Ryan’s moratorium on the death penalty, something that Bush clearly favors.

Ryan himself might be overlooked for a Bush pardon, but it could come as a favor to longtime Republican fundraiser Thompson.

Once requested, Bush will have until his last day in office, January 19, to make a decision as many other former presidents have done.

Thompson has taken the legal proceedings as far as he could, maintaining that because of some irregularities with the jury in the six-month trial for Ryan and his pal two years ago, the two did not receive a fair trial. Thompson’s opinion was bolstered by the sole dissent in the Court of Appeals and a minority opinion by Circuit Judges who ultimately refused to rehear Ryan’s case. But that argument failed to convince a federal appeals court to grant a new trial. And, it failed to sway the nation’s high court.

Last November U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens refused to allow Ryan to stay out of jail while his case was being appealed to the high court.

In April, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement filed a brief stating that the U.S. Supreme Court should refuse to hear the appeal of convicted ex-Governor George Ryan.

The U.S. Solicitor General argues for the Government of the United States in front of the U.S. Supreme Court when the government is involved in a case.

Clement said complaints about jurors were misguided and a hearing was not warranted.

Ryan reported to prison in November 2007 to serve a six and one-half year sentence. He was initially sent to Oxford Institution, in Wisconsin, but was recently moved to Terre Haute Federal Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana. Under new regulations, of which Ryan was unaware at the time of his sentencing, Oxford could no longer care for inmates over 70 years of age. Ryan is 74.
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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ryan moved to Indiana prison

Ex-governor George H. Ryan, 74, was transferred to a prison closer to his Kankakee home in the last days of February.

Ryan had chosen the Oxford Institution at Oxford, Wis., which is called the country club, as his preference when he began serving a six and one-half year prison sentence for corruption last November. But he was moved from what had become his home there. He was trans-ferred to the minimum-security Terre Haute Federal Institution at Terre Haute, Ind.

Unbeknownst to Ryan when he began serving his sentence, the medical care requirements at Ox-ford changed. Under new regula-tions, the Oxford facility could only care for inmates 70 years or younger. Ryan just turned 74.

The Terre Haute facility is lo-cated about 70 miles west of In-dianapolis on Interstate 70. It is a minimum-security institution that houses male inmates. A high-security institution shares the Federal Correctional Com-plex. It is at that maximum-security prison that the only death chamber in the federal pri-son system is housed. It is where Timothy McVeigh, the Okla-homa City bomber was executed in 2001.

Ironically, as governor, Ryan gained international attention for his declaration of a moratorium on executions in Illinois. He in-tended to revamp the capital punishment system.

While governor, he commuted all of the death sentences in Illi-nois. More than 160 inmates were given a reprieve, moving from death row to life in prison.

It was for that effort that Uni-versity of Illinois Law and Hu-man Rights Professor Francis Boyle has nominated Ryan for the Nobel Peace Prize for several consecutive years.

Because of the timing, some believed Ryan’s actions were simply a ruse to deflect interest from the scandal that ultimately cost him his freedom.

Ryan’s lawyers are still hoping for an appeal by the U.S. Su-preme Court to rehear his case. If there is no appeal, he is ex-pected to be released in 2013.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Ryan lawyers appeal to Supreme Court

As predicted, attorneys for ex-Gov. George Ryan filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

Dan Webb and former Gov. James Thompson, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Ryan’s behalf, seeking to overturn his conviction.

In November, 2007, Ryan began serving a six and one-half year prison sentence at a federal penitentiary in Oxford, Wisconsin.

More than a year before, on April 17, 2006, Ryan, along with his co-defendant and business partner, was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violations in connection with the ‘license for bribes’ scandal that began when Ryan was Secretary of State.

Short of appealing to President Bush for a pardon, this is Ryan’s last hope for freedom.

Ryan was supposed to report to prison by Jan. 4, 2006, but several attempts to overturn his conviction were attempted. He was, however, allowed to remain out of jail during the appeals process.

Ryan’s appeals fell short. A dissenting opinion on the Appeals Court, left the door open for Ryan’s attorneys to reach higher for an appeal.

Circuit Judge Michael Kanne issued the sole dissent last August when the Court of Appeals ruled against Ryan. Judge Kanne was also among the minority opinion in October when, by a vote of 6 to 3 vote, Circuit Judges refused to rehear Ryan’s case.

“The trial was riddled with errors that ultimately rendered the proceedings manifestly unfair and unjust, notwithstanding the production of overwhelming incriminating evidence against the appellants,” Kanne wrote, noting that the trial was “broken beyond repair.”

Thompson built his defense on his belief that Ryan did not have a fair trial.

“Ryan deserves a fair trail by jury no matter what the evidence is,” Thompson said, referring to jury misconduct, the sole subject of the appeals.

In the 37-page appeal, attorneys explored three questions. The first concerns the appropriate standard for determining when a deliberating juror in a criminal trial can be removed and replaced with an alternate.

The second question asks if a trial court commits structural error in permitting a jury verdict where more than half the jurors are interrogated in the middle of deliberations about their own misconduct in the presence of a prosecutor.

Finally, the third question asks whether a reviewing court must assess trial errors not only for their individual effects, but also for their cumulative effect on the trial proceedings.

“All these issues are the subject of widespread confusion and disagreement among the lower courts, and all are worthy of this Court’s review,” noted the appeal.

Also in question are the fifth and sixth amendments to the Constitution.

The fifth amendment, states that “No person shall be ... deprived of life liberty, or property, without due process of law ...”

The sixth amendment provides, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, ...”

Experts have said there is an off-chance that the U.S. Supreme Court justices will agree to hear Ryan’s case, though only a small percentage of cases are heard by the high court. Although it was U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who denied Ryan’s request for bail.
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Friday, November 9, 2007

Ex-Gov. Ryan begins prison sentence

Justice is finally served as ex-Gov. George Ryan begins his six and one-half year prison sentence.

As of this writing, Ryan is enroute to Oxford, Wisconsin to begin paying his debt to society. He blatantly violated the public trust and abused Illinois’ highest office, treating it as if it was his own personal fiefdom.

He was accused of steering big government contracts to his friends and family, accepting payoffs, gifts, and lavish vacations.

On his way to the federal prison camp, Ryan was accompanied by another ex governor – Gov. James R. Thompson – whose high profile lawfirm, Winston & Strawn, represented Ryan free of charge.

In recent months, Ryan’s freedom resembled an hourglass. The sand, which was seemingly endless finally ran out Tuesday. It was then that U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens refused to extend Ryan’s bail, ensuring his immediate future. He had already been ordered to report to Oxford before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Before he left his Kankakee home Wednesday morning, Ryan spoke to reporters. He proclaimed his innocence, vowing to continue to fight to prove it. He said he would report to prison with a “clear conscience.”

But despite his resolve, even appeals court Justice Michael Kanne, who disagreed with the majority judges, favoring a retrial for Ryan and co-defendant Larry Warner, wrote that the evidence against the two was overwhelming.

Experts say there is an off chance that the U.S. Supreme Court justices will agree to hear Ryan’s case. There is also a slim possibility that Thompson can ask to President George W. Bush for a pardon.

It was exactly 13 years ago Thursday that five children belonging to Scott and Janet Willis died in a fiery car crash. A sixth child later died as a result of the crash, which occurred when a chunk fell off a truck driven by a driver who obtained his driver’s license illegally. Thus began an investigation into the workings of the Secretary of State’s office. Not only did the Willis accident happen on Ryan’s watch, while he was Secretary of State, but instead of investigating the accident, Ryan’s pals tried to cover it up.

Ryan never took responsibility, apologized, or offered any explanation to the Willis family.

After Ryan was indicted, Willis called him arrogant. After Ryan was convicted in April 2006, Willis said “he arrogance continued.” Ryan must serve 85 percent of his sentence, even with good behavior.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ryan’s options have almost run out, Judge says report to prision by Nov. 7

The same three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied a motion to extend the bond for former Governor George Ryan, 73, and his co-defendant and business partner Lawrence Warner.

“Construing the motion as one that in part seeks reconsideration of this court’s order of Aug. 21, 2007, ordering appellants’ grant of bail to be extended ‘until this court issues its mandate,’ it is ordered that the motion is denied,” wrote Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood.

Circuit Judge Michael Kanne dissented, as he has consistently throughout the appeals process.

“The trial was riddled with errors that ultimately rendered the proceedings manifestly unfair and unjust, notwithstanding the production of overwhelming incriminating evidence against the appellants,” Kanne wrote, noting that the trial was “broken beyond repair.”

Unless the dissenting opinions in the appeals process will resonate with Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court very quickly, Ryan and Warner will have to report to jail as ordered by Circuit Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer by Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Ryan and Warner were convicted after a seven-month trial, last year, for multiple violations of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violations in connection with the ‘licenses for bribes’ scandal.

Ryan, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in jail following his conviction on all counts of wrongdoing April 17, 2006. Warner was sentenced to 3 1/2 years.

On Aug. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. On Oct. 25, the full U.S. Court of Appeals denied a petition for a rehearing.

In November, bond was granted, keeping Ryan and Warner out of jail.
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Monday, May 1, 2006

History shows Ryan hurt eastern Will County

Ex-Illinois Gov.
George Ryan
The actions of convicted ex-governor George Ryan have directly impacted eastern Will County.

Let us not forget that it was Ryan who started landbanking for the Peotone Airport.

Who would have predicted that Ryan would be indicted, let alone convicted, of multiple felonies, including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, making false statements, extortion, money laundering, structuring money, tax fraud and filing false tax returns?

The fall of George Ryan began with the tragic death of six innocent children belonging to the Rev. Scott and Janet Willis. The events began a probe into Ryan’s conduct in public office.

Though Ryan did not directly cause the accident, it was later learned that the driver of the truck that caused the accident illegally obtained a drivers license when Ryan was Secretary of State. And Ryan pals who now sit in jail, tried to cover up the investigation of the accident.

George Ryan’s downfall was his arrogance, rooted in the belief that he was above the law.

Many say that Ryan was a nice guy, a kindly grandfather. Well, that may be the case, but the test of a person’s character cannot be accurately measured by how he plays with his grandchildren.

A true test of character is evident by how a man behaves under adversity and how he reacts to problems.

Ryan handled problems like a bully on the playground, scornfully dismissing anyone who disagreed with him.

Had it not been for a hardnosed prosecutor with a keen sense of right and wrong, Ryan would be just another ex-governor who hurt people without a sense of remorse.

Ryan never flinched when he hurt people with his decisions.

In eastern Will County, Ryan certainly hurt people. Had it not been for his actions as Governor, the Peotone airport project would have died in 1992. At that time, Ryan did the right thing -- voting appropriately -- against locating an airport near Peotone. As a member of the Bi-State Policy Committee that was charged with selecting the right site for a new airport, Ryan cast the deciding “no” vote for the Peotone site.

Once in the top political spot in Illinois however, Ryan followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Jim Edgar, who threw the first Illinois tax dollars at the proposal to build an airport at Peotone.

Not to be outdone, Ryan took it a few steps further. While Edgar threw money into additional studies, Ryan, for the first time, put money into the state’s budget for land acquisition.

Ten years after Ryan did the right thing by voting against Peotone, he did the wrong thing by boldly deciding to buy the first piece of property.

Apparently it didn’t matter that the first piece – a vacant parcel in Heatherbrook Estates in Monee Township -- was outside the state’s downsized airport plan.

Nor did it matter that officially, there was no project, since the Federal Aviation Administration had not identified a site for a new airport. The Phase I Environmental Impact Statement was not even completed at the time.

When the Tier I EIS was finally completed, it was after the fact. While the agency’s determination that buying land for an airport would not endanger the environment, in a letter to Ryan pal Kirk Brown, who headed the Department of Transportation, the agency wrote that Illinois was buying land at its own risk.

That action caused many to wonder about the political motivations behind the deal.

Land acquisition fell under the influence of the Airport Project Office in Matteson, run by former Monee Township Supervisor Christine Cochrane, who was named by Edgar.

Later, Cochrane became an assistant to Ryan political pal Brad Roseberry who then headed the project office.

Roseberry quit the post when he testified in court against Ryan. He admitted that he campaigned for Ryan on state time and shredded documents during Ryan’s tenure as Secretary of State. Roseberry escaped indictment, however, when he agreed to testify against Ryan and Ryan pal Scott Fawell.

Ryan’s first land deal netted one vacant lot in Heatherbrook Estates, but the token piece was all it took to inspire near panic sales by other landowners, already worn down by years of uncertainty.

The $47,000 price tag was a cheap price to pay to get the real estate door opened for the Peotone project. Never mind that it wasn’t even a part of the state’s 4,000 acres needed for its “starter” airport.

Another 27 parcels in Heatherbrook Estates were purchased by the state, totally relieving owner/developer Bob Bonnema from having to sell lots in his upscale subdivision. Another 65 acres has been purchased by the state to date.

Ironically, under the Blagojevich administration, Ryan’s actions were undone. It was decided to sell the Heatherbrook properties, since they weren’t needed. Residents there cried hardship, earning little sympathy from other eastern Will County landowners that have suffered since long before Heatherbrook was built.

An entire region has faced a hellish existence because George Ryan made a deal.

Despite the fact that Ryan was not directly responsible for the death of the Willis kids, he is responsible for destruction of peace and pleasure in eastern Will County.
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