7th Circuit Refuses to Rehear Ryan Appeal

     CHICAGO (CN) – In a three-sentence order released Monday, the 7th Circuit refused to rehear an appeal of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, found guilty of corruption charges in 2006.
     Ryan was convicted of multiple counts of racketeering, mail fraud, tax violations and making false statements to the FBI. He received a 6 1/2-year sentence, which the 7th Circuit affirmed in 2007.
     In late 2010, the former governor launched a collateral attack on his conviction, arguing that his sentence should be reduced in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Skilling v. United States, which limited the scope of the “honest services” mail fraud theory. Skilling limited honest services mail fraud to bribery or kickbacks, disallowing convictions based solely on concealment of payments.
     Though the 7th Circuit initially rejected Ryan’s arguments, the Supreme Court ordered reconsideration last April in light of recent precedent .
     Jurors in the Ryan trial were instructed that they could find criminal mail fraud if Ryan either took bribes or accepted undisclosed payments that created a conflict of interest, even if he did not do anything in exchange.
     “The first possibility survived Skilling, and the second did not,” the circuit summarized in an earlier ruling. “Ryan maintains that the jury may have convicted him on [conflict of interest] alone.”
     But the 7th Circuit again affirmed Ryan’s sentence last August, finding that at least two of the mail fraud counts – and possibly all four – were based on the jury’s finding of bribery.
     Barring further intervention by the Supreme Court, Monday’s order represents the end of the line for Ryan’s challenge. No active 7th Circuit judge requested a vote on his petition for rehearing.Ryan is scheduled to be released next July. His wife, Lura Lynn, died of cancer while Ryan was incarcerated. Last December, Judge Pallmeyer denied Ryan’s plea to shorten his sentence after Lynn’s doctors determined that she had less than six months left to live. The 7th Circuit affirmed there, too.

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