Closing arguments begin in trial of ex-governor of Ill.


March 07, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

CHICAGO -- Summing up nearly six months of testimony in the corruption and racketeering trial of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, prosecutors depicted a corrupt, arrogant man whose actions forced the state to sacrifice public safety for political payoffs.

Ryan, a Republican, was eagerly "pillaging the state coffers" for years and "might as well have put a `for sale' sign on his office" when acting as Illinois governor and secretary of state, assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Levin told jurors yesterday.

Prosecutors allege that Ryan, 72, and his relatives accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for state business contracts from 1991 to early 2003. Despite a mountain of paperwork and more than 110 witnesses, lawyers for both sides have said that this week's closing arguments may be the deciding factor in swaying the jury.

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