Federal prosecutor Zachary Fardon: Office challenged by lack of money

The new U.S. attorney for northern Illinois says congressional budget constraints could at some point force his office to scale back prosecutions.
January 9, 2014 3:17:40 PM PST
The new U.S. attorney for northern Illinois says congressional budget constraints could at some point force his office to scale back prosecutions.

Sitting in a chair rather than looking down at reporters from a podium is how Zach Fardon chose to conduct his first televised press conference since taking office as the northern district of Illinois' new U.S. attorney.

But while Fardon's casualness may be reflective of his Tennessee roots, he is known as one tough prosecutor.

Fardon told reporters at his first press conference that Congressional budget cuts are making it difficult for his staff to do their jobs.

''I feel no political pressure of doing the right thing,'' Fardon said.

Politicians have pressed Fardon to devote more manpower to tackling violent crime in Chicago.

Fardon says his offices' prosecutions have devoted about one third of their time towards violent crime.

''I think this office has a robust history and pipeline when it comes to cases that have an impact on violent crime,'' Fardon said.

While gun, gang and drug prosecutions continue to be a priority, Fardon says these will not come in the place of public corruption, something his office is known for.

He did not disclose what his number one priority is.

''Those things are not mutually exclusive, we will continue to do both,'' Fardon said.

The federal prosecutor says, however, that it will be impossible to do both if federal budget cuts continue, which includes a hiring freeze, and out of 172 staff positions there are 19 vacancies in his office.

Fardon is calling on Congress to act soon and if not, he will have to start setting priorities.

'If something doesn't change in terms of the hiring freeze and sequestration, we will reach a point and have make a decision of what to step away from,'' Fardon said.

Fardon's budget woes come at a time when his office actually turned a profit.

Civil and criminal cases brought in over $78 million compared to the $34 million spent to fund the US attorney's office, more than double in collections.

All the money they take in through cases however, goes into a general justice department pot, so the US attorney's office won't get that back.


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