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.