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United States Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois

Trials of corrupt former governors of Illinois, Chicago officials who rigged city hiring, individuals who supported foreign terrorism, international drug smugglers, bosses of Chicago’s violent drug-trafficking street gangs, corporate executives who cheated public shareholders, and organized crime bosses who were responsible for notorious murders ― these are among the recent, successful prosecutions that distinguish the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. While earning a reputation built over decades for battling organized crime and aggressively prosecuting public corruption, the federal prosecutor’s office in Chicago continues to uphold that tradition, even as its top priorities now also include anti-terrorism, violent crime associated with narcotics and street gangs, health care fraud and cybercrime. And extensive efforts are dedicated to providing assistance and restitution to victims of crime. In the civil arena, in addition to defending the United States against all varieties of civil claims, The U.S. Attorney’s Office recovers hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to the United States and penalties from companies and individuals who defraud federal programs. Among recent examples are judgments against an insurance company that discriminated against pregnant women and pharmacies that cheated Medicare.

On October 23, 2013, Zachary T. Fardon, previously a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade, returned to government service as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, succeeding Patrick J. Fitzgerald, whose 11-year tenure made him the longest-serving United States Attorney ever in Chicago. Gary S. Shapiro, a 40-year veteran federal prosecutor, remains First Assistant U.S. Attorney after serving as interim U.S. Attorney since Mr. Fitzgerald stepped down. The office has more than 300 employees, including approximately 170 authorized Assistant U.S. Attorney positions and more than two dozen paralegals, along with other administrative and support staff. The Northern District of Illinois covers 18 counties across the northern tier of Illinois, with a population of about nine million people. The district has a branch office in Rockford staffed by seven attorneys. Attorneys and staff are committed to a longstanding tradition of public service and community involvement throughout northern Illinois. Each year, among other civic endeavors, attorneys and staff donate hundreds of toys and articles of clothing to needy children, provide programs for children in public schools, and mentor law students.

In the Criminal Division, new Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) are assigned to the General Crimes Section where they receive both formal and hands-on training in federal criminal law and procedure, grand jury and trial practice. New AUSAs are quickly assigned responsibilities in investigations and trials under the supervision of more senior prosecutors, exposing them to the entire spectrum of federal offenses, including things like tax fraud, bank robbery and embezzlement, and illegal sale and possession of narcotics and firearms. After gaining experience in General Crimes, AUSAs are assigned to the other sections, such as the Narcotics and Gangs Section, which investigates and prosecutes street gangs, gang violence, illegal guns, major narcotics distribution and international drug cartels. In addition to prosecutions, AUSAs seek to deter violent crimes and gang and drug activities through programs like the “parolee forums” and Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide anti-violence initiative tailored to local communities.

Other senior sections of the Criminal Division are the National Security Section, which handles terrorism and counterespionage investigations, and the Financial Crimes and Special Prosecutions Section, which handles complex cases including securities and commodities fraud, bankruptcy and mortgage fraud, and other white-collar crimes. The USAO is part of the Justice Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force, tackling health care fraud in Chicago.

Additionally, the Public Corruption and Organized Crime Section continues the office’s long tradition of prosecuting those who betray the public trust or use patterns of violence and corruption to protect illegal enterprises. “Organized crime” includes La Cosa Nostra (known in Chicago as the “Outfit”), as well as other emerging and transnational groups, such as Eastern European and Asian criminal organizations.

Several AUSAs specialize in money laundering and assisting attorneys throughout the office in seizing and forfeiting defendants’ criminal assets. They attempt to “take the profit out of crime” by tracing the proceeds of drug traffickers and other criminals and obtaining their profits as restitution for victims. Additionally, Financial Litigation Unit attorneys assigned to the Criminal Division trace assets to collect restitution for victims of crime and debts owed to federal agencies.

Several other AUSAs specialize in appeals and guide prosecutors throughout the office in writing briefs and preparing for oral argument. A select group of attorneys act as Senior Litigation Counsel in guiding trial teams through the thicket of courtroom advocacy.

About two dozen Assistant U.S. Attorneys are assigned to the Civil Division where they handle a wide array of both defensive and affirmative litigation on behalf of the federal government, its agencies, and its employees. Affirmative matters include civil rights (such as fair housing, disability access, and mortgage redlining claims), environmental (including pollution and wetlands cases), food and drug cases (such as misbranded drugs or contaminated foods), and civil fraud cases, especially health care fraud. The division also defends the United States and federal officials against personal injury and medical malpractice claims, and employment discrimination lawsuits, in addition to defending challenges to federal statutes, policies, and programs. Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys also represent the Government in bankruptcy matters and foreclosures.

Attorneys in the office work closely with agents of all of the federal investigative agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the offices of inspector general of the various federal agencies and executive branch departments (such as the Departments of Defense, Labor, State, and Housing and Urban Development.) The office also embraces extensive cooperation between state, local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The office typically receives hundreds of employment applications annually from lawyers, making hiring extremely competitive. Attorney applicants are evaluated on legal experience, law school performance, writing and oral communication skills, and dedication to public service, among other factors. Successful attorney applicants are expected to commit themselves to serving a minimum of four years in the office.

The office also has an extensive intern program designed to expose law students to all aspects of federal criminal and civil practice. Student interns have an opportunity to participate in and observe conferences, depositions, hearings, trials and appeals.

For further information, please write or call the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois at (312) 353-5300.

Eastern Division (Chicago)

A map of Illinois counties covered by the Chicago office.  Counties include Lake, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall, Will, La Salle and Grunde

Zachary T. Fardon
United States Attorney

United States Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division
219 S. Dearborn St., 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604

Phone: (312) 353-5300
Fax: (312) 353-2067

Covers Illinois Counties:

  • Lake
  • Kane
  • DuPage
  • Cook
  • Kendall
  • Will
  • La Salle
  • Grundy

Western Division (Rockford)

A map of Illinois counties covered by the Rockford office.  Counties include JoDaviess, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Carroll, Ogle, DeKalb, Whiteside and Lee

John McKenzie
Attorney In Charge

United States Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois, Western Division
327 S. Church Street, Room 3300
Rockford, IL 61101

Phone: (815) 987-4444
Fax: (815) 987-4236

Covers Illinois Counties:

  • JoDaviess
  • Stephenson
  • Winnebago
  • Boone
  • McHenry
  • Carroll
  • Ogle
  • DeKalb
  • Whiteside
  • Lee





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