George Ryan is a free man today. The former Illinois governor was released from federal custody after spending five years in prison for corruption and another six months under home confinement.
Federal Inmate #16627-424 still has to do a year of supervised release: he’ll have to check in with parole officers periodically. The 79-year-old was released a day ahead of schedule. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison in 2007 but was let out early for good behavior. His prison stay was split between two federal facilities: the first was Oxford Prison in Wisconsin, followed by a stay in the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. While there, his wife of 55 years, Lura Lynn, died. He was able to visit her in the hospital during her final days.
In January, Ryan was allowed to finish out his sentence confined to his home in Kankakee. He was only allowed to leave for a few different reasons, including doctor visits and church.
In 2006, Ryan was convicted of racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements to the FBI. He was also accused of stopping an investigation into secretary of state employees accepting bribes for truck driver's licenses.
His conviction cost him his state pension. WBEZ spoke with Andrea Lyon, one of the attorneys who represented the former governor for free.
He has nothing. Some social security, they couldn’t take that from him, but you know the house is paid for and his family is helping him as much as they can, I mean, he’s poor.
Halfway house manager Bob Ciulla processed Ryan’s paperwork with him early Wednesday. He told Associated Press that Ryan looked “visibly relieved,” and was so well-organized it only took twenty minutes for him to fill out a stack of forms. Ciulla says Ryan was "clearly happy to have this part of his life behind him."