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Feds create new Chicago teams targeting cybercrime, securities fraud

U.S. Attorney Zach Fardspeaks mediFebruary  Dirksen Federal Building downtown Chicago. He's reshuffling staff creating new cybercrime securities commodities fraud

U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon speaks to the media in February at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago. He's reshuffling staff and creating new cybercrime and securities and commodities fraud teams. | Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 23, 2014 6:12AM

Cybercrime and securities and commodities fraud will be targeted by new teams of Chicago prosecutors under a reshuffle ordered by U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon.

And violent crime — an area in which Fardon has been under political pressure to do more — will get its own boss, but no extra attorneys.

The reorganization of Chicago’s 153 federal prosecutors is the first major management change Fardon has instigated since his appointment late last year.

His creation of a team of a dozen lawyers focused on securities and commodities fraud makes it more likely that large financial cases that were previously tried in New York could now go before Chicago juries.

The recent conviction of Sentinel Management CEO Eric Bloom in a $500 million fraud case shows that Chicago’s federal prosecutors were already targeting securities fraud, U.S. Attorney spokesman Randall Samborn said, but Fardon believes that Chicago’s central role in securities and commodities trading means its an area where “more can be done.”

And Fardon, who has previously stressed the increased importance of fighting cybercrime, made that explicit by appointing a cybercrime deputy chief, Bill Ridgway, who is just 33.

He resisted calls for him to devote more resources to tackling street crime, but has divided his office’s large drug and gang crime unit into two smaller units, focussing on drugs and violent crime respectively.

Former assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Ron DeWald will lead the violent crime team. Fardon hopes the smaller units will be able to focus more effectively on street crime, Samborn said.

Fardon also plans to hire eight to ten new prosecutors this year, now that a federal hiring freeze has been lifted.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused the U.S. attorney’s office last year of not doing enough to combat Chicago’s epidemic of street violence.

On Monday, he applauded the new unit.

“I met with Zach [Fardon] back when he came here and I welcome that the U.S. Attorney is creating this unit to deal with gun violence. And I think it’s a good thing,” the mayor said.

Contributing: Fran Spielman


Twitter: @kimjnews

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