George Ryan, on home confinement, pictured at restaurant more than 30 miles from Kankakee home

February 18, 2013 4:18:02 PM PST
Former Illinois governor George Ryan is on home confinement, but in an I-Team exclusive photo, he can be seen having dinner at a restaurant more than 30 miles from home.

Ryan is supposed to be spending the next six and a half months confined to his home in Kankakee. So, imagine the shock and awe that overcame some patrons in a popular south suburban restaurant when they saw the ex-governor sitting at a table with five other people having Sunday dinner.

The restaurant is 31 miles away from Ryan's home, a 45-minute drive for the corrupt ex-governor who is on home confinement.

"He has to follow a very strict regimen. He is not free to go as he pleases," said former governor Jim Thompson at the time of Ryan's release from federal prison.

Thompson provided that assessment of Ryan's near-future fate the day that the former governor was released from prison. Ryan managed to bypass a halfway house assignment and instead return to the family home in Kankakee, where he was to be confined for the next 6 and a half months--except for work or church, according to Bureau of Prison officials at the time.

Late Sunday afternoon, at an Italian restaurant in Frankfort, the disgraced governor walked in the front door and sat down in what the manager calls "a secluded table." Ryan, seen in a photo with his daughter-in-law, Amy, who made the reservation, dined with son George Ryan Jr. and two friends.

When contacted by telephone Monday afternoon, the I-Team asked Ryan, "We have a photo of you dining with some people last night at a restaurant in Frankfort. How could that happen?" Ryan, after lengthy pause, said, "I have no comment about anything."

Ryan also refused comment when asked if he notified the probation department ahead of time.

A short time later, ex-governor Thompson responded, saying that Ryan was well within the terms of his punishment.

Thompson explained: All persons on federal home confinement are allowed to be out in public for six hours on Saturday or six hours on Sunday, plus two hours for church. While out, Thompson said, they must go to a public place, such as a mall, restaurant or movie theatre, not someone's home or a tavern.

The Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Probation Office were both closed for the Presidents' Day holiday and no one responded to the I-Team's request for comment. Several former federal prosecutors told the I-Team that such a weekend hiatus is unheard of, but an ex-prison bureau official says that those six-hour leaves are indeed part of the rules for a certain low-risk level of home confinees.