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George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview

I stayed up late last night to read the deposition of a convicted felon.

George Ryan is serving time in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for crimes of corruption and obstruction he committed while he was Illinois' secretary of state and governor.

He was deposed last March by attorney John Stainthorp, whose client, Oscar Walden Jr., who was suing the City of Chicago.

Walden, who was convicted of rape, was granted a pardon by Ryan. Walden alleged his confession was coerced by the Chicago police.

The March 2010 deposition was the first lengthy interview of Ryan since he began serving his six-and-a-half year sentence more than three years ago.

Often throughout the interview, Ryan responded to Stainthorp's question with "Pardon?"

What you can't tell on the black and white document is whether he respond that way because he could not hear the question or because he did not understand the question.

Or, maybe it was something else.

Some of the Chicago's reporters describe Ryan's tone during the questioning as testy and combative. As I read the deposition, I could envision the arrogance spewing from the recognizable baritone of the once powerful politician.

I thought of what questions I would ask my former boss. Then I played devil's advocate and answered my own questions.

This is how I imagined the interview would go.

HAMMER: Mr. Ryan, How are you doing today?

RYAN: Who the hell are you?

HAMMER: I was an investigator with the Inspector general when you were secretary of state.

RYAN: How do you spell that?

HAMMER: Spell what, investigator, secretary, Hammer, or what?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER Let's just move on. Why did you cover up the investigation by Russ Sonneveld and me probing the Ricardo Guzman bribe to Marion Seibel for a commercial driver's license?

RYAN: Who is this Bonneville guy?

HAMMER: Sonneveld? My partner.

RYAN: Pardon?Ryan- Pardon?

HAMMER: Do you recall the theft of money from the Naperville driver's license facility by the manager and the money going to your campaign?

RYAN: No fun here. I'm hungry. Are you staying for lunch? We are having baloney sandwiches today.

HAMMER: It is too early for lunch. Mr. Ryan, you granted clemency to many Death Row inmates; one murdered a police officer friend of mine who was responding to a bank robbery. That officer left behind a young widow with two children. How do you feel about that?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Can you hear me okay?

RYAN: Why would you ask me that?

HAMMER: You keep saying "Pardon?"

RYAN> The problem with punks like you, you don't get nothin'.

HAMMER: Mr. Ryan, please expound upon your comment.

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Okay , okay. I'm frustrated. Let's wrap this up.

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Do you feel in anyway responsible for the 20 or more traffic fatalities linked to your licenses-for-bribes scandal?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: That's it, my last question! Mr. Ryan is there anything you want now that could change your life for the better?

RYAN: Pardon! Damn it, pardon!

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 1, 2011


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