A History of Former Illinois Governors in Prison

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces a federal judge today in a hearing to determine how long he will serve in prison for his conviction on 18 counts of political misconduct while serving as Illinois' chief executive, the New York Times reported. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his crimes.

Four former Illinois governors have done (or are doing) prison time following a felony conviction in court. Here is a list of his predecessors and how they fared in front of the judge:

George Ryan

The one-term Republican was sentenced in 2006 to 6 1/2 in federal prison for felony fraud and racketeering charges after completing his term as governor, NPR reported. Ryan had a lengthy career in Illinois politics, including service in the General Assembly and as Secretary of State, where allegations of quashing a formal investigation were founded. Those allegations ultimately led to his conviction in federal court. Ryan remains incarcerated at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is expected to be released in July 2013.

Dan Walker

The former Democrat governor served from 1972 to 1977 but was convicted of bank fraud in 1988 and sentenced to seven years in prison, according to the Chicago Tribune. After serving as governor, Walker went on to open a series of quick oil change franchises and serve as head of a savings and loan. Prosecutors said that while serving as head of the S&L, Walker used the thrift as his "personal piggy bank." He served just 17 months in prison before being released, the Associated Press reported. He told WBEZ his prison time was a "gut wrenching, soul searching time."

Otto Kerner

The former Democrat governor was found guilty of 17 felony charges of bribery and other political improprieties while serving as governor, Huffington Post reported. The charges related to bribes taken from two Illinois racetracks and were discovered during a tax investigation. Kerner was elected to two terms but resigned during his second term to take an appointment by President Lyndon Johnson as a federal appeals court judge. He resigned his judgeship rather than face impending impeachment charges. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison, but completed just one year before being released due to poor health. He died nearly two years after being released and is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dan McGinnis is a freelance writer, published author and former newspaper publisher. He has been a candidate, campaign manager and press secretary for state and local political campaigns for more than 30 years.

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