Former IL Gov. Ryan indicted; CDL fraud among the allegations

| 12/18/2003

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was indicted Dec. 17 on federal charges of taking payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for government contracts and leases while he was Illinois secretary of state, The Associated Press reported.

Ryan, 69, gradually became the focus of an investigation that began before his 1998 election as governor. The scandal was a factor in his 2001 decision not to seek a second term.

The investigation initially focused on bribes exchanged for CDLs for unqualified truck drivers but was later expanded to a range of alleged bribery and other corruption in the Ryan era.

Ryan, who served as secretary of state from 1991 to 1999, has said he knew there was a culture of corruption in the secretary of state's office but was unaware of the specifics.

The indictment alleges Ryan received illegal cash payments and gifts, vacations and personal services. It says members of his family got cash loans and gifts totaling $167,000.

The 22-count indictment charges that Ryan himself directed payments totaling more than $300,000 to prominent lobbyist Donald Udstuen, who earlier pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

“The charged conduct by former Gov. Ryan reflects a disturbing violation of trust,” U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Ryan is charged with betraying the citizens of Illinois for over a decade on state business, both large and small.”

Ryan became the 66th person charged in the investigation; 59 people and his campaign committee have been convicted so far.