Governors Gone Bad

Allegations against Illinois governor put him in a questionable category

Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years, and a host of other governors have gotten into legal trouble.

  • Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.
  • Dan Walker, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 11/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.
  • George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders and helping cover up bribes paid in return for truck drivers licenses while he was secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 61/2-year prison term.

Additionally, William Stratton, Illinois governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but was acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.

Governors from other states who have run into legal trouble include:

  • Alabama: Guy Hunt was removed from office upon his convictionon a felony ethics charge in 1993 for using $200,000 from his inaugural fund on personal purchases. A judge spared him from a prison sentence and Hunt eventually received a pardon. Don Siegelman, who served one term as governor before losing in 2002 amid corruption allegations, was convicted in 2006 on bribery and other charges. He was sentenced to more than seven years but then released after serving nine months while his appeal is pending.
  • Arkansas: Jim Guy Tucker was found guilty in 1996 of misusing a federally backed business loan. He resigned and served 11/2 years of home detention, avoiding prison because of health problems. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to conspiring to reduce his tax on a cable TV deal and ordered to pay restitution. Both cases had stemmed from the Clinton-era Whitewater investigation.
  • Arizona: Fife Symington resigned after being found guilty in 1997 of defrauding lenders in his previous career as real estate developer. His conviction was overturned on appeal and he was later pardoned by President Clinton. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years but had remained free on appeal and did not serve any time.
  • Connecticut: John G. Rowland resigned as governor in 2004 and pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge. He admitted trading access to his office for more than $100,000 in vacations, charter airline trips and home repairs. He served 10 months in prison.
  • Maryland: Marvin Mandel was sentenced in 1977 to four years in federal prison after being convicted of mail fraud and  racketeering for helping five friends with legislation favorable to a racetrack they owned. He served 14 months.
  • Louisiana: Edwin W. Edwards was convicted in 2000 with four others in a scheme to rig riverboat casino licensing. He remains in prison and has served six years of a 10-year sentence.
  • Rhode Island: Edward DiPrete pleaded guilty in 1998 to bribery for accepting $250,000 from architects and engineers in exchange for state contracts. He served 11 months in prison.
  • Tennessee: Gov. Ray Blanton was ousted in 1979 amid charges of selling pardons. He was later convicted of conspiracy to sell liquor licenses and served 23 months of a three-year sentence. One of the charges was overturned.
  • West Virginia: Arch A. Moore Jr. pleaded guilty in 1990 to five felonies, including mail fraud and extortion. He served three years of a nearly six-year sentence. William Wallace Barron served over three years in prison after pleading guilty 1971 to paying a $25,000 bribe to a federal jury foreman during his 1968 corruption trial.



Copyright AP - Associated Press
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