Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan won a legal victory on Thursday when a Cook County Circuit Court judge upheld a bid her office made to strip former Gov. George Ryan of his pension following his conviction on corruption charges.
Ryan has not yet started serving his sentence.
For the Madigan release, click below…
TERMINATION OF FORMER GOVERNOR RYANS PENSION UPHELD
Chicago The Circuit Court of Cook County today upheld the termination of former Governor George H. Ryans full pension.
Following Ryans April, 2006 conviction on 18 counts of criminal activity, the General Assembly Retirement System of Illinois (GARS) requested an opinion from Attorney General Madigan regarding the impact of the conviction on the payment of the former Governors pension. On September 12, 2006, Attorney General Madigan issued an opinion finding that because Ryans extensive and reprehensible criminal conduct was directly and inherently related to his official duties as Governor and Secretary of State, his criminal conviction requires the forfeiture of his pension benefits. Madigan also concluded that the Illinois law concerning the forfeiture of pension benefits requires a total forfeiture of all of Ryans pension benefits, not merely those that accrued during his terms as Governor and Secretary of State.
Based on this opinion, on September 19, 2006, the GARSs Board voted to suspend the former Governors pension. Ryan appealed the Boards decision to the Circuit Court of Cook County. In his appeal, Ryan argued that he should not have to forfeit the pension benefits derived from his years of government employment prior to his criminal conduct.
In todays ruling, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Martin Agran upheld the Boards decision and concluded that permitting Ryan to retain any pension benefits based on his government employment would allow future participants who engage in criminal conduct while serving in state government to protect their pension from forfeiture by simply changing positions within state government. Judge Agran found that such a result would diminish the deterrent effect of the pension forfeiture provisions in Illinois law.
Former Governor Ryan breached the public trust, using his positions within state government to engage in widespread criminal conduct, Madigan said. Ryans actions were exactly the type of misconduct that our pension forfeiture law is designed to discourage. Todays decision confirms that public officials cannot be allowed to benefit from conduct that directly violates the public trust.