Former Gov. Ryan says he's innocent

| 12/24/2003

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan says he’s innocent of allegations he took payoffs in return for letting associates profit from state contracts and said he would make his case to jurors by testifying at his trial, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The charges in the 22-count indictment announced last Wednesday against Ryan and lobbyist Larry Warner could send them to prison for years. Warner, who allegedly collected at least $3.1 million through his friendship with Ryan, pleaded innocent Dec. 19.

Ryan, a Republican who served as secretary of state from 1991 to 1999 and governor from 1999 to January 2003, was freed on $4,500 bail. He is accused of breaking the law while he was secretary of state and governor.

Among other things, Ryan is accused of turning the state’s commercial trucking department into a “corporation” of patronage where for the right price, “anybody was allowed to get a commercial driver’s license,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In a public statement, Ryan said, "When I appeared in federal court this morning, as you all know, I entered a not guilty plea. I entered a not guilty plea to the charges contained in the government's indictment of me. I am absolutely not guilty of those charges.”