Former Ill. Governor George Ryan Vows a Fight

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan pleaded not guilty today to official corruption charges and issued this statement:

....Lura Lynn and I have spent more than three decades in service to the people of Illinois. I have tried my best to be faithful to that service, and to earn the trust and support of the voters who elected me in election after election. I would not dishonor that trust by the kind of conduct the government has alleged, and I am grateful for the calls and letters that I have received from people who are standing by me.

I have retained Dan Webb, an outstanding trial lawyer and fighter, because I am not going to give up -- I will fight. I want to respond to the six years of abuse my family and I have endured as the federal government has torn apart my personal life with this intrusive and overbearing investigation. Therefore, I will not plea bargain -- I will go to trial and establish my innocence.

....I am innocent and the truth will come out in court.

Among the defects in the Government's case, according to Ryan's lawyer: There is no witness who will testify that Ryan took a bribe.

The government has cobbled together a number of unrelated acts, innocent acts, that are nothing more than the fabric of what goes on in Illinois politics and Illinois government," the attorney said. "The government has taken these acts, has exaggerated them (and) has misinterpreted them, and I'm confident that when a jury hears this evidence, (Ryan) will be found not guilty."

Webb said jurors would be swayed by Ryan's testimony and his character -- his 40 years of public service and such accomplishments as seeking to reform a death penalty system that had put innocent men and women on Death Row.

Moreover, Webb said, jurors would see the ex-governor has no ill-gotten wealth to show for his alleged misdeeds. "The truth is, George Ryan is a man today (who) lives upon a pension and Social Security payments (and) lives from month to month to make ends meet," Webb said. "He has no assets, no stocks, no bonds. He has a modest house in Kankakee, Ill. That is not the financial picture of a person who has engaged in the conduct the government has alleged in its case."

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