George Ryan arrives at West Side halfway house

Former Gov. George Ryan arrived at a West Side halfway house this morning after being released from a federal prison in Indiana.

Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and maroon tie, Ryan was surrounded by TV cameras as he walked across the street and entered the four-story red brick building at Ashland Avenue and Monroe Street shortly before 7 a.m.

Ryan smiled tightly as he refused to answer questions from reporters. Former Gov. Jim Thompson accompanied Ryan into the house.

Ryan completed more than 5 years of a a 6 1/2-year prison sentence in Terre Haute, Ind. for a corruption conviction. 

Ryan entered prison on Nov. 7, 2007. His wife of more than 50 years, Lura Lynn, died of cancer in June 2011.

Ryan's conviction for fraud, racketeering and other charges was the culmination of the federal Operation Safe Road investigation that exposed rampant bribery in state driver's license facilities while he was secretary of state as well as misdeeds as governor.

After a six-month trial, a federal jury convicted Ryan in 2006 of steering millions of dollars in state business to lobbyists and friends in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits to Ryan and his family.

The conviction overshadowed Ryan's long career in government.

The Kankakee native rose from speaker of the Illinois House to win statewide election as lieutenant governor, secretary of state and then one term as governor. His actions as governor included placing a moratorium on the death penalty and emptying death row, moves that won him international acclaim.

Twitter: @chicagobreaking

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