This story was posted at my AmateurWrestlingFanAddicts group -- along with the explanation from the poster, Chris Fortunato -- since it ties in directly with the establishment of RealProWrestling...
This case involved Toby Willis, promoter of RPW, whose family was killed in a tragic auto accident due to the corruption of George Ryan's office as Secretary of State of Illinois before he became Governor. The tragic accident, stemming from persons that bribed the Secretary of State's office to allow faulty vehicles on Illinois roads, started a gradual unraveling of a conspiracy of corruption in Ryan's office as well as the underlying coverup.
Ex-Illinois governor's conviction upheld
By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer 8 minutes ago
CHICAGO - A federal appeals court upheld former Gov. George Ryan's racketeering and fraud conviction Tuesday and refused to grant a new trial that could delay his 6 1/2-year prison sentence in the biggest political scandal to rock Illinois in decades.
Ryan's attorneys immediately began trying to prevent the 73-year-old former governor, once the state's most powerful Republican, from having to report to prison immediately.
Tuesday afternoon, they were filing for a rarely granted "en banc" hearing that would have the entire U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hear the appeal, said longtime Ryan supporter James R. Thompson, another former Illinois governor whose law firm, Winston & Strawn, represented Ryan for free. A three-judge panel had issued the split ruling rejecting a new trial.
"Governor Ryan obviously is disappointed," Thompson said. But he said, "No court ever deprived a defendant of his life and liberty under these circumstances and that is an argument we will make if necessary to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Ryan was convicted last year of racketeering conspiracy, fraud and other offenses for taking payoffs from political insiders in exchange for state business while he was Illinois secretary of state from 1991 to 1999 and governor for four years after that. Prosecutors said he had steered state contracts and leases to insiders and used tax dollars in his political campaigns.
In his appeal, Ryan's attorneys argued that the jury's deliberations were flawed.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer had replaced two jurors with alternates after deliberations in the case had already started, and the defense said unauthorized documents brought into the jury room poisoned the deliberations.
The three-judge 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed Tuesday in a 2-1 decision.
"The fact that the trial may not have been picture perfect is, in itself, nothing unusual," Judge Diane Wood wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Judge Daniel Manion.
Judge Michael Kanne dissented and said Ryan and his co-defendant, businessman-lobbyist Larry Warner, should get a new trial. He called the jury deliberations "dysfunctional."
It wasn't immediately clear when Ryan would have to begin serving his 6 1/2-year sentence. He has been free on an unusual appeal bond granted by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court had said then that he would have to report within 72 hours unless granted a new trial, said former federal prosecutor Patrick M. Collins, who spearheaded the corruption investigation.
"He can still appeal things, but even with those appeals pending, by court order, he has to report," Collins said.
Ryan and Warner both maintain they did nothing illegal.
The investigation into the men began as a probe of bribes exchanged for commercial drivers licenses in Illinois. It ballooned into a wide-ranging investigation of corruption when Ryan was a major political power at the Statehouse in Springfield and led to dozens of convictions of state officials, lobbyists, driving instructors and others.
At the same time, Ryan was also being praised by capital punishment foes for suspending executions in the state and clearing Illinois' death row.
Ryan's appeal of his conviction was largely based on the decisions by Pallmeyer to replace the two jurors after deliberations had started. The dismissed jurors had been found to have omitted mention on pre-trial questionnaires that they had been in trouble with the police.
"The high profile nature of these proceedings gave rise to some unusual problems with the jury, but we are satisfied that the court handled them acceptably," the appeals court said.