The Illinois Supreme Court is faced with the decision of whether or not to let disgraced ex-Gov. George Ryan receive a portion of his pension earnings that were stripped from him after his 2006 fraud conviction.
The seven justices heard arguments Wednesday morning regarding a reversed court decision by the state appeals court earlier this year that said the Kankakee Republican should be allowed to keep pension earnings from prior offices in which he was not convicted of crimes, the Sun-Times reports.
The imprisoned ex-chief executive lost the entirety of his $197,037 pension in 2006, courtesy of the state General Assembly Retirement System, according to the Sun-Times.
Former 14-year-Gov. Jim Thompson came to the defense of Ryan, who served as his lieutenant governor from 1983 until early 1991. Thompson claimed that Ryan should not be penalized for the honest time he spent in office prior to becoming secretary of state and governor.
"For 24 years, as a member of the Kankakee County board, as a legislator and as lieutenant governor, George Ryan gave honest and important service to the people of Illinois," Thompson said. "He made his contributions, and he is entitled to his pension for those years."
Assistant attorney general Jan Hughes, who represents GARS, argued that Ryan's entire government pension is subject to forfeiture according to felony provisions in state pension law, the Sun-Times reports.
"The policies of the felony forfeiture provision are to deter others and to discourage official malfeasance," Hughes said. "Giving Gov. Ryan even part of his pension does nothing to promote those policies."
Thompson argued that a tarnished reputation and six-and-a-half-year prison sentence was enough punishment for the 75-year-old who is scheduled to be released from a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. on July 4, 2013.