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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Ex-US governor convicted of fraud
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan
Ryan was both criticised and praised for halting executions
George Ryan, the former governor of the US state of Illinois, has been found guilty of racketeering and other serious corruption charges.

A jury decided that Ryan had helped friends and associates obtain contracts in return for rewards ranging from a golf bag to winter holidays.

Ryan made headlines three years ago when he commuted the death sentences of prisoners in Illinois.

The move earned him an unsuccessful nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ryan faces 20 years in prison.

His co-defendant, Larry Warner, was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, attempted extortion, illegally structuring bank withdrawals and money laundering.

'Low-water mark'

Prosecutors said the 72-year-old steered state contracts and leases, worth as much as $25m (14m) deal, to his friends and political insiders.

In return, he received vacations in Jamaica, Cancun and Palm Springs and gifts ranging from a golf bag to $145,000 in loans to his brother's business.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said Ryan's actions represented "a low-water mark of public service".

FBI investigator Robert Grant said the verdict emphasized that no-one was above the law.

"I hope this case begins the end of political prostitution that seems to have been evident in the state of Illinois, and begins a resurrection of honest government and services," he said.

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