5. George Ryan
While serving as the 39th governor of Illinois from 1999 until 2003, George Ryan would garner international acclaim for overhauling Illinois’ problem-plagued criminal justice system and especially for declaring a moratorium on executions in Illinois in 1999 and commuting more than 160 death sentences to life sentences in 2003. So, it would be a little ironic that a man so lauded for reforming the justice system, would end up as a convicted felon.
Though Ryan began his one term as governor triumphantly, with Ray Charles playing at his inaugural bash, the stench of corruption would soon emanate from his office. What started as a federal investigation into a deadly crash in Wisconsin that claimed the lives of six children and severely injured their parents, quickly revealed a scheme where truck drivers were paying bribes to Ryan’s office to obtain a license.