CHICAGO -- A federal court in Chicago on Monday denied George Ryan's latest appeal seeking his release from prison, dashing what was widely regarded as the former Illinois governor's last credible hope to cut short his 6 1/2-year sentence for corruption.

Even though the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals complex, 16-page ruling didn't go in the 78-year-old Republican's favor, he doesn't have too much longer to wait behind bars. He is scheduled to finish serving his sentence at a Terre Haute, Ind., prison in mid-2013.

Ryan was convicted of steering state contracts and leases to insiders as secretary of state and then as governor – receiving vacations and gifts in return. He also was accused of stopping an investigation into secretary of state employees accepting bribes for truck driver's licenses.

Last year, the same court rejected arguments that prosecutors never proved at Ryan's 2006 trial that he took bribes. But the U.S. Supreme Court in April took issue with how the three appellate judges reached their finding and ordered them to decide again.

In doing that, Monday's opinion addresses the legal language employed by the sides at Ryan's trial and concludes that – whatever terms were bandied about – jurors clearly believed prosecutors proved Ryan took bribes.

Defense attorneys had argued that gifts and vacations Ryan received from people who later got state business were based on friendship, weren't an exchange for financial benefits and, therefore, weren't bribes.

One of several examples cited in Monday's ruling was a $3,185 check written by a lobbyist to pay for a band to play at the wedding of Ryan's daughter

"Ryan's lawyers vigorously argued that these benefits were tokens of friendship, and that he did nothing in return for them," the opinion said. But, it continues, prosecutors had fundamentally argued at trial that they were bribes and, "The verdict shows that the jury found in the prosecution's favor."

The legal wrangling grew out of a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that curtailed so called "honest services" laws across the country, specifying that they must be applied to clear instances of bribery or kickbacks.

Such laws have been used in corruption cases against politicians and executives accused of violating their duty to offer "honest services." But the court's 2010 ruling largely agreed with critics who complained the laws were often too vague.

A message left for Ryan's attorney and longtime friend, former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, was not immediately returned Monday. Thompson had said before the latest loss in the courts that defense lawyers could file yet another appeal with the nation's highest court.

Thompson said last month that Ryan also is still struggling to cope with the death of his wife of 55 years, Lura Lynn Ryan. Ryan was released for several hours to be at his wife's side before she died last year, though he wasn't allowed to attend her funeral.

Ryan's successor as governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, is also in prison for corruption; he began serving a 14-year term in March.

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  • William Beavers

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  • Ambrosio Medrano

    FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2003 file photo, former Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano is seen in Chicago. A jury convicted Medrano on Monday, June 17, 2013 of a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery. He faced federal charges accusing him of paying bribes he was told would be given to a Los Angeles official in order to secure a lucrative contract. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Jesse Jackson Jr., Sandi Jackson

    Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife and former Chicago alderman Sandi leave the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, after Jackson entered a guilty plea to criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. Sandi pleaded guilty to a related tax fraud charge. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Isaac Carothers

    Chicago Alderman Isaac Carothers, chairman of the Chicago City Council's police and fire committee, leaves federal court after his arraignment in Chicago, Monday, June 8, 2009. Carothers pleaded not guilty to charges that he took home repairs worth $40,000 plus campaign contributions and sports tickets in exchange for fixing a zoning case. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Ed Vrdolyak

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  • Rod Blagojevich

    In this Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to reporters as his wife Patti looks on at the federal building in Chicago after being sentenced for 14 years on 18 corruption counts. On Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, U.S. District Judge James Zagel agreed to allow Blagojevich to report to prison March 15. He previously was ordered to begin on Feb. 16. Zagel also agreed to recommend that Blagojevich be sent to the Englewood prison in Colorado. Federal prison officials have the final say. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • George Ryan

    In this April 17, 2006 file photo, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, accompanied by his son George H. Ryan Jr., right, leaves Chicago's federal courthouse after being convicted of racketeering and fraud charges. As Illinois taxpayers look down the barrel of a major income tax increase, another tax is already draining their wallets. It's the "corruption tax" _ the extra money that Illinois residents end up paying because of dishonest public officials. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • James Laski

    Former Chicago city clerk James Laski, right, stands by as his attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, holds a news conference at federal court after a sentencing hearing in Chicago, Tuesday, June 13, 2006. A federal judge sentenced Laski to two years in prison for taking bribes to get companies's work in the city's scandal-plagued Hired Truck Program. (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

  • Otto Kerner

    Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and related charges in 1973. Kerner, foreground, and New York Mayor John Lindsay report on current and future activities of the President's Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. The chairman and vice chairman respectively met with reporters in Washington DC on October 6, 1967. (AP Photo/Bob Daughtery)

  • Dan Walker

    Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker walks through the federal courthouse in Chicago on Aug. 5, 1987, after his indictment on charges of bank fraud, misapplication of bank funds and perjury were announced. Walker, who served as governor from 1973 to 1977, was in court to enter a plea of guilty on the charges, and had agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation according to U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. (AP Photo/Mark Elias)

  • Tony Rezko

    In this June 4, 2008 file photo, former top fundraiser for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Antoin "Tony" Rezko returns to the federal courthouse for the reading of the jury's verdict in his corruption trial in Chicago. A federal judge today sentenced Rezko to serve seven more years in prison on top of the 31/2 years he has already served while awaiting sentencing Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

  • William Cellini

    In this April 16, 2009 file photo, Springfield, Ill., power broker William Cellini leaves federal court in Chicago. Cellini was indicted on charges of fraud and extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion in connection with a plan with Antoin "Tony" Rezko and others to block a Hollywood producer's real estate investment company from getting $220 million in teachers pension money to invest unless the producer contributed to Blagojevich. His indictment was one of many that happened before the investigation into wrongdoing by the former governor. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Stuart Levine

    In this Oct. 27, 2006 file photo, millionaire political campaign contributor Stuart Levine is seen leaving federal court in Chicago. Levine pleaded guilty in October 2006 to fraud and money laundering in the Antoin "Tony" Rezko schemes and was the government's top witness against Rezko. His conviction was one of many that happened before the investigation into wrongdoing by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • John Harris

    In this Dec. 9, 2008 file photo, John Harris, a former top aide to ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, leaves the federal building in Chicago after his arrest on corruption charges. Harris, who pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing, is one of the many convictions before the investigation of wrongdoing by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

  • Dan Rostenkowski

    Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Chicago, talks to reporters during an appearance Thursday, Nov. 3, 1994 in Chicago. Rostenkowski, the once-mighty symbol of Washington power whose fraud case has made him a target of the term-limits campaign, admits "there's cloud hanging over me now" and asks voters for another chance in the election on November 8. He later pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud. He was fined and sentenced to 17 months in prison and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2000. (AP Photo/John Zich)

  • Arenda Troutman

    Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman speaks during a City Council meeting in this Sept. 27, 2006, file photo. Troutman, voted out of her 20th Ward seat in February 2007, was indicted Wednesday, July 11, 2007, on 13 additional counts including extortion, bribery, mail fraud and income tax evasion. Troutman was originally charged in January 2007, and pleaded not guilty, to one count of bribery for allegedly taking $10,000 in payoffs from a developer who also was working as an FBI mole. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Betty Loren-Maltese

    Betty Loren-Maltese leaves the Federal Courthouse in Chicago Thursday, Jan. 9, 2003, after she was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for fraud that swindled the town of Cicero, Ill. out of $12 million. Loren-Maltese was also fined $100,000, ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution, and must forfeit $3.25 million in assets. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Arthur "Ron" Swanson

    Arthur "Ron" Swanson, a former Illinois state senator and lobbyist, arrives at federal court in Chicago, Tuesday, July 11, 2006, for his sentencing after pleading guilty to perjury charges. Swanson was placed on probation for two years and fined $20,000 for lying to a grand jury investigating corruption in former Gov. George Ryan's administration. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • James Duff

    Chicago businessman James Duff gets into a car outside federal court in Chicago, Wednesday, May 18, 2005, after being sentenced to almost 10 years in federal prison for defrauding the city and a group of insurance companies. Duff was also ordered to pay more than $22 million in forfeitures and restitution for a racketeering scheme that included lying to get lucrative city contracts set aside for minorities and women. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Virgil Jones

    Chicago Alderman Virgil Jones is searched by security as he enters the federal building in Chicago Wednesday, Jan. 27, 1999, for his extortion conspiracy trial. Jones, 49, was found guilty Thursday, Jan. 28, of accepting $7,000 to allow admittedly corrupt contractor to operate a rock crusher in his 15th Ward on Chicago's South Side. He is the fifth City Council member to be convicted in the federal government's Operation Silver Shovel payoff investigation. (AP Photo/Charles Bennett)

  • Scott Fawell

    Scott Fawell, left, leaves the federal courthouse in Chicago with his attorney, Edward Genson, right, after Fawell, a top aide to former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, was found guilty on all counts by a federal court jury Wednesday, March 19, 2003, of corruption charges stemming from the eight years Ryan was Illinois secretary of state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Julie Starsiak

    Julie Starsiak leaves federal court, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004, in Chicago after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about bid-rigging. Authorities say Starsiak also promised to cooperate in the ongoing investigation of corruption under former Illinois Governor George Ryan. Starsiak was a vice president at a firm run by powerful lobbyist Al Ronan. (AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera)

  • Nicholas B. Blase

    Nicholas B. Blase, left, longtime mayor of Niles, Ill., listens as his attorney, Harvey M. Silets, speaks to reporters after Blase was charged in federal court with taking payoffs to steer customers to a friend's insurance agency, Thursday, June 8, 2006, in Chicago. Agents from the FBI took Blase, the mayor of the 30,000-resident community in north suburban Chicago for the past 45 years, into custody Thursday on his 78th birthday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • Robert Sorich

    Robert Sorich, former patronage chief to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, leaves federal court with his attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin, left, in Chicago after he was convicted of two counts of mail fraud in a scheme to load the city payroll with campaign workers in defiance of a federal court order. Daley has not been charged with any wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Al Sanchez

    Former Chicago Streets and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez enters federal court Wednesday, March 4, 2009, in Chicago where he has been charged with taking part in a scheme to falsify city hiring documents to make it appear that jobs and promotions were being awarded on the basis of merit when they were actually granted based on politics. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Calvin Boender

    In this photo taken Thursday, March 4, 2010, developer Calvin Boender leaves federal court after a hearing in Chicago. Trial is scheduled to begin Monday, March 8 for Boender who is charged with bribing an alderman to get a zoning change. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and as many as 10 City Council members may be called to the witness stand at the corruption trial (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • John Briatta

    Former Chicago city worker John Briatta arrives at federal court in Chicago Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006, where he pleaded guilty to taking at least $5,400 in bribes to get trucks into Chicago's corruption-plagued Hired Truck Program. Briatta is the brother-in-law of Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the mayor's brother. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Daniel Katalinic

    Daniel Katalinic, former deputy commissioner of streets and sanitation, leaves Chicago's federal building Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005, after he pleaded guilty in a patronage hiring fraud case. In pleading guilty, Katalinic said he knew court orders in requiring merit hiring of city employees were being violated and agreed to help prosecutors in their investigation of hiring fraud in Mayor Richard M. Daley's get-out-the-vote operation. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Patrick Slattery

    Patrick Slattery, left, a former Chicago city official, leaves federal court in Chicago Tuesday, July 26, 2005, with his attorney, Patrick Blegen, after a judge refused to throw out a corruption charge against Slattery, a former city official accused of lying about the qualifications of job applicants with political clout to help them get positions in Chicago's department of streets and sanitation. Slattery and another offical, Robert Sorich, were charged Monday, July 20, with rigging the city's hiringprocess to get around a ban on political patronage abuses. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)