Fallen Illinois Governor Fights to Keep Part of Pension

December 29, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Former Illinois Governor George Ryan filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to hang on to at least some of his $197,000-a-year state pension, stripped from him by the state's retirement board following a string of convictions.

Ryan was convicted in April of mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, obstruction of justice and bribery while he was secretary of state and governor between 1991 and 2003. However, the lawsuit argues he should be able to keep the $65,000 in annual pension payments he earned before 1991, while he served as a county board member, legislator and lieutenant governor, the Associated Press reported.

Soon after the former governor got handed a six-and-a-half year prison sentence in September, state retirement officials began discussing whether state law allowed for all of his pension to be revoked, or only the money he received during his years of corrupt behavior (See Convicted Former IL Governor Could Lose Pension ). Pension officials said Ryan is eligible for a refund of about $235,000 in contributions he paid into the system, according to the AP.

In the decision to rescind all of Ryan’s pension money, the General Assembly Retirement System board relied heavily on the opinion of theAttorney General Lisa Madigan, who issued a 25-page legal opinion in September lambasting Ryan’s actions (See IL Attorney General Says Ryan Should Lose Pension ).