Jailed former Illinois George Ryan is asking to have part of his case tossed out due to a Supreme Court ruling that challenged a provision in the law used by prosecutors to convict him of fraud. Ryan’s lawyer stated that he hopes that the former governor will be released sooner than his expected 2013 release date. This, according to the Associated Press.
Ryan was jailed for several charges, including racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements to the FBI.
The disputed Supreme Court decision has to do with the “honest services provision” in the law that enables prosecutors to claim that government officials–and corporate officers–scheme to “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” The provision, which is murky, was weakened earlier this summer by the Supreme Court. The high court’s decision put two highly publicized convictions–Jeffrey Skilling of Enron and Conrad Black, former newspaper chief–back into the spotlight.
The cases for Skilling and Black are both being reviewed; Skilling’s charges have been vacated until retrial, and Black is currently out on bail. The point of contention in the law is that while both men committed illegal acts, they did not do so to achieve private gain.
Attorneys for George Ryan believe that the law applies in his case and have asked the federal judge who presided over the case to vacate the charges against Ryan. The attorneys also believe that Ryan has served his time for the other charges and should be released.
The honest services provision, according to the Washington Post, has been criticized by defense attorneys due to its inability to “prove” that an individual knowingly “schemed” to deprive other’s of their service. Government groups that fight fraud and white collar crimes, however, believe it’s the lynch pin vital for prosecution.
If a request to re-examine the granted, Ryan may be freed on bond; if the judge agrees with Ryan’s lawyers, the former governor may be freed based on time served, according to the Associated Press.
Governor Pat Quinn is not in favor of Ryan’s freedom, stating today; “If you do the crime, you gotta do the time.”