A stoic former Gov. George Ryan was sentenced this afternoon to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for years of corruption while he held state office.
Before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer imposed the sentence, Ryan apologized to voters for his actions.
“When they elected me as the governor of this state, they expected better. And I let them down. For that I apologize,” Ryan said. “The result deeply pains me. This is the saddest day of my life.”
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Ryan, 72, showed no expression when the sentence was handed down. Nor did his wife Lura Lynn, who sat behind him and beside former Gov. Jim Thompson.
Ryan will become the third Illinois governor in my lifetime to do time in prison. His successor, Rod Blagoyevich, is currently under the microscope by Ryan's prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Instead of selling licenses for bribes, Blagojevich is suspected of selling state jobs and appointments to state boards and commissions.
In spite of his conviction, Ryan expressed his gratitude to the law firm of Winston & Strawn, which is said to have performed in excess of $10 million in legal work pro bono on Ryan's behalf. "Ryan thanked Thompson’s law firm, Winston & Strawn, for its work in offering 'a defense that I desperately needed but could not afford,'" the Sun-Times reported.