High court hears Ryan pension case
Former Gov. George Ryan deserves to keep part of his state pension despite a 2006 conviction on corruption charges, his attorney told the Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday.
"He and his wife have nothing left but his partial pension," Ryan's lawyer, ex-Gov. James Thompson, told the court.
Thompson said state law allows Ryan to retain the portion of his pension that accrued before he served as Illinois secretary of state and governor. The criminal charges on which Ryan was convicted covered his time in those offices. Ryan previously served as lieutenant governor, in the Illinois House of Representatives and on the Kankakee County Board.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office countered that Ryan and his lawyers aren't interpreting the law correctly.
Assistant Attorney General Jan Hughes told the court that the General Assembly Retirement System board made the right call in November 2006 when it said Ryan's conviction meant he had to forfeit all pension benefits earned during three decades in government.
Hughes said it's wrong to make a distinction between Ryan's governmental offices because they all are part of the same pension fund. Further, she added, letting him keep part of his pension wouldn't do anything to deter future wrongdoing by members of the pension fund.
If Ryan wins the Supreme Court case and a partial pension, he'd receive a monthly benefit of about $5,000. Before his conviction on the federal charges, his monthly benefit had been about $10,000, officials said.
The court's decision likely won't be issued for months.
GateHouse News Service State Capitol Bureau