Former Illinois Gov. Ryan to stay in prison during appeal

December 21, 2010

By Associated Press & City Room

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Former IL Gov George Ryan (AP/File)

George Ryan's son says the family is "tremendously saddened" by a judge's decision to keep the former Illinois governor in federal prison.

George Ryan Jr. spoke to reporters outside of the family home in Kankakee, Ill., on Tuesday afternoon after a federal judge upheld the ex-governor's conviction and denied his request to be released from prison.

Ryan called the judge's ruling "heartless and cruel." He says his parents are "devastated." The former governor's wife of more than 50 years has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Doctors have given her as few as three months to live.

George Ryan Jr. says his sister was taking their mother to her first radiation treatment Tuesday.

Ryan's lawyer, former Governor Jim Thompson says all Lura Lynn Ryan wants is "a chance to be with her husband again during her last days." Thompson made the comments Tuesday in an interview with Chicago's CBS television news affiliate.

In denying Ryan's appeal, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer noted that she's had to put people in prison whose personal circumstances were even more compelling than the Ryans'.

She said quote, "Any sensitive judge realizes that a lengthy prison term effectively robs the convicted person of what we all value most: months and years with loved ones, some of whom will no longer be there when the sentence has been served."

Ryan has served three years of a 6½-year sentence on convictions for racketeering, tax fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI.