Ex-Illinois Gov. Ryan headed for prison
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan will surrender himself to begin serving a prison term, his lawyer said on Tuesday after a Supreme Court justice turned down a bid from the Nobel Peace Prize nominee to remain free while he appeals his corruption conviction.
"He said OK ... He said he was prepared to surrender," Jim Thompson, Ryan's lawyer and himself a former Illinois governor, told reporters about the 73-year-old Ryan's reaction when he got the word.
Thompson said he would accompany Ryan to a federal prison in Oxford, Wisconsin, where he must report by sunset on Wednesday to begin serving a 6-1/2 year sentence. He did not say exactly when Ryan would travel to the prison, a minimum-security facility in rural Wisconsin.
Ryan, who was promoted for several years for a Nobel Peace Prize because of his opposition to the death penalty, had filed an emergency request for continued bail pending his appeal to the top U.S. court. But Justice John Paul Stevens turned him down on Tuesday.
A jury convicted Ryan and lobbyist Larry Warner on 18 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and other offenses involving favoritism and kickbacks for state contracts and property leases that enriched Ryan and his friends.
Ryan's lawyers argued that jury deliberations at the end of his six-month trial were flawed.
Lawyers for Ryan and Warner plan to file appeals of their convictions with the Supreme Court in January and had asked that the two men remain out of prison until the justices act on their appeal. Warner is due to report to a Colorado prison, also on Wednesday.
Both had been free on bond pending appeal since the sentencing on September 6, 2006.
DRIVER LICENSE SCANDAL
A Republican, Ryan won a single four-year term as governor in 1998 before retiring amid a bribery scandal rooted in his years as secretary of state and involving employees of his office who sold truck driver's licenses.
The scandals paved the way for Democrats to regain the Illinois governor's seat for the first time in more than a quarter century with Rod Blagojevich's election in 2002.
Ryan in 2000 ordered a moratorium on executions in Illinois after 13 death row inmates in the state were found to have been wrongly convicted using DNA and other new evidence.
Before leaving office in 2003, Ryan emptied the state's death row, commuting the sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison and becoming a hero to foes of capital punishment.
He also drew headlines in 1999 by becoming the first U.S. governor to lead a trade mission to Cuba.
A federal appeals court upheld the convictions of both men and the judge who presided over their trial ruled earlier this week that they were not entitled to a new trial.
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