George Ryan to be released to halfway house in late January
By MICHAEL SNEED firstname.lastname@example.org January 19, 2013 3:26AM
Updated: February 21, 2013 6:48AM
The Ryan report...
Inmate #16627-424 is going home. Well, almost.
Sneed has learned former Gov. George Ryan, who has spent a little more than five years in federal prison on corruption charges, is scheduled to be released on Jan. 30 and sent to a halfway house on Chicago’s West Side.
◆ Backshot: Ryan, whose formal release date is July 4, lost his beloved wife, Lura Lynn, to cancer, and his brother, Tom, the former mayor of Kankakee, to pneumonia while the ex-governor was in prison at a facility in Terre Haute, Ind.
◆ Upshot: It’s not unusual for inmates to leave prison six months early to enter a halfway house closer to their home. Although the Federal Bureau of Prisons will not comment on the release plans, Sneed has verified the date through numerous sources familiar with friends Ryan has made in prison.
◆ However, Sneed reported last August — via Ryan’s lawyer, former Gov. Jim Thompson — that Ryan would begin serving the last leg of his sentence in January when he enters a work release program.
◆ Backshot: “He’s been sad, he lost a vital segment of his family,” said a close Ryan friend who asked to remain anonymous. “How would you feel? He was married to Lura Lynn for 55 years, and she was his childhood sweetheart.”
Since entering prison, Ryan has spent his time reading books, working in the prison shop, and walking miles each day.
Last September, Ryan’s only son, Homer, told Sneed: “But I know the first thing he’ll do when he gets out is to visit Mom’s grave and take care of the house [in Kankakee]. He’ll be 79 years old when he comes home [from the halfway house].”
◆ Back story: Ryan and his wife, whom he courted while walking miles to her farmhouse, raised their brood of six children in an old Victorian house in Kankakee where he enjoyed power-washing his porch and making homemade beef vegetable soup.
◆ Back chat: Ryan once told Sneed he left behind two notes to his gubernatorial successor, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is now serving a 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges in a federal prison in Colorado.
◆ Quoth Ryan to Sneed years ago: “One note he [Blago] was to open when things get tough. It contains my best personal advice, which is: ‘When things get tough, blame me.’ ”
◆ The second envelope: “It contained my final advice: ‘When things really get tough, get two envelopes.’ ”
◆ Ryan also told Sneed he left Blago a six-pound can of spinach at the governor’s mansion “just in case he needs a little bit of Popeye’s strength.”
◆ The irony: Since then, the man who chastised Ryan for corruption is now in prison on corruption charges.
It’s now time for Ryan to come home.
Sneed’s scoop on former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald being named a new trustee at the University of Illinois, which has been plagued by a student admissions scandal, netted this comment from Fitzgerald, Gov. Pat Quinn’s personal pick:
“I am terrifically excited to join the board and help in any way to make a better institution. I’d love to do it and I start next week. But there is no special assignment. My assignment is showing up. But I will be showing up with both ears open.”
Over and out.
A Tiger’s tale...
Scratch the tabloid twaddle Tiger Woods proposed over the Christmas holiday to ex-wife Elin Nordegren, who allegedly claimed she’d do it for a pre-nup — including a $350 million anti-cheating clause.
A friend of Nordegren tells Sneed the story is “farcical, bogus, absolutely fiction, false and that she is spending her time being a lovely mom raising her lovely kids.” So there.
Inaugural musings ...
At last peek, Oprah Winfrey will not be going to her good buddy President Barack Obama’s inauguration ... and neither was Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan planning to go.
Saturday’s birthdays: Desi Arnaz Jr., 60; Dolly Parton, 67; and Luc Longley, 44... Sunday’s birthdays: Bill Maher, 57; Lorenzo Lamas, 55; and David Lynch (right), 67.