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Blago prosecutor leaving U.S. attorney’s office

Updated: August 21, 2012 6:30AM

The assistant attorney who prosecuted Rod Blagojevich, Stuart Levine and more is leaving his 12-year federal career to join the Chicago offices of the Washington D.C.-based law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

Christopher Niewoehner, 42, will be working as a partner in the company’s white-collar criminal defense division starting July 30.

While saddened to leave the job where he successfully prosecuted former Gov. Blagojevich and a handful of the ex-politician’s allies and fundraisers, Niewoehner said he’s excited to face new challenges.

“It’s been phenomenal,” the assistant U.S. attorney said of his involvement in “Operation Board Games” corruption probe following Levine’s sentencing Thursday.

“These are cases that made a difference. I hope they play a part of change in the culture of politics in Illinois.”

One of the politically-connected figures Niewoehner had been investigating was Raghuveer Nayak, a former fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Jackson’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, also works at Steptoe & Johnson.

Niewoehner said once he started talks with the private firm in February, he recused himself from any investigations relating to Jackson.

Ethically, Niewoehner said, he’s obligated to keep what he learned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office confidential.

“Mr. Niewoehner will of course abide by all ethical rules and will not have any involvement whatsoever in the firm’s representation of Congressman Jackson,” said a statement Steptoe & Johnson released Thursday.

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