No Pension for George Ryan

Springfield, IL – Former Illinois Governor George Ryan won't receive his state pension. The Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion Friday, February 19 that denies Ryan's request to draw at least a portion of his retirement benefits.

Ryan racked up a $197,000 annual pension for his years in Illinois government. But he was stripped of everything earned while he was governor and secretary of state because he was found guilty of corruption that occurred during that period.

Ryan's attorney is another former Republican governor, Jim Thompson. He tried to convince the Court that Ryan should keep a $70,000 dollar annual payout earned while Ryan was a legislator and lieutenant governor.

Thompson dismissed the notion that the pension payout would diminish the seriousness of Ryan's crimes.

"I don't think taking away two-thirds of your pension and putting you in jail is a slap on the wrist," said Thompson.

But the Supreme Court justices feel otherwise. In a 6-to-1 decision, the high court said Ryan's racketeering and fraud conviction made him ineligible for any of the money.

The 23-page decision written by Justice Bob Thomas put it in plain language, noting: "Ryan gets nothing."

Thomas wrote that Illinois taxpayers were victims of Ryan's crimes and are under no obligation to fund his retirement.

The sole dissenter was Justice Anne Burke. She understands the "human impulse to want to punish Ryan," but adds the law reads that Ryan should only forego benefits gained in connection with his felony convictions.

Ryan - who will turn 76 on Wednesday - is serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence at the federal prison at Terre Haute, Ind. He's expected to be released in July 2013.

Thompson and Ryan's wife have petitioned President Barack Obama for clemency.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio and the Illinois Associated Press