Robert Grant to leave Chicago FBI

July 30, 2012 8:19:54 PM PDT
In 2006, FBI agents had suspicions and a whistleblower, but in order to arrest a sitting governor, you better have a solid case.

That's why it took two years, including one in which voters went to the polls and re-elected Governor Rod Blagojevich before the FBI arrested him.

"When I talk about the previous administration and I talk about Governor Ryan, I talk not just about the corruption but misplaced priorities," Blagojevich said in September, 2006.

Blagojevich's rhetoric was in fine form.

Little did he know, that was the same month FBI agents first felt they had the goods on the governor. It happened just as Blagojevich's predecessor was preparing for prison.

"I remember sitting at the sentencing of George Ryan and thinking, 'well, we're going to have another charged governor here in the not too distant future,'" Robert Grant said. "At that time I was thinking; 'what kind of political leadership does this state have?'"

The FBI Chicago boss feels a bit freer to talk about high profile cases. He announced on Monday that he'll leave the bureau after 29 years.

For the last seven, Grant and former US Attorney Pat Fitzgerald teamed up to take down one governor, a dozen other elected officials, mobsters and a media baron.

But it is the Blagojevich case, and public corruption in general, that continues to bewilder this law man.

"If Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the country, it's certainly one helluva competitor," Grant said in December, 2008.

"At the end of the day if we're charging politicians for taking bribes and there are business people or industries offering those bribes and we're not putting them in jail to the same tune as public officials, then we're only solving half the problem," Grant said.

Grant said there is no lull in high profile cases at the moment to make him feel this is a good time to retire. He said his agents are continuing their work to burrow deep into the halls of power.

But in a little more than a month Chicago's two top federal law enforcement positions will be vacant.

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