I-Team: Surprise resignation of US Marshal in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a very unusual move, Darryl McPherson has resigned as US Marshal in Chicago-giving up a presidential appointment.

Federal sources tell the ABC7 I-Team that McPherson will be demoted to new post in Chicago. Why he resigned is unclear- and his office is not saying- but the I-Team had revealed a year ago that McPherson was subject of a justice department investigation targeting financial mismanagement of the office.

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ABC7 was told last summer that two investigations of the Chicago office were underway looking at how taxpayer money was managed: one by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General and the other by Marshal Service Internal Affairs.

As Chicago deputy marshals worked the streets tracking down wanted fugitives, at their headquarters in the Loop, administrative operations were unraveling, according to the I-Team investigation.

An audit of the office and its nearly $30 million Chicago budget turned up serious problems according to sources in the Marshal's office: Bills were being paid late or not at all, creditors were calling the office, and the I-Team has been told money was being spent on office furniture that sources claim was unnecessary, and giveaway trinkets such as challenge coins, even after the Department of Justice had put a freeze on purchasing the coins.

At one point during McPherson's reign, all spending by the Chicago office had to go through D.C headquarters, and Veteran Chief John Whitelock was sent in by officials in Washington to fix the financial mess.

McPherson began his career as a deputy in 1997 and was promoted to senior inspector in 2007; served on the Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force and was the lead deputy protecting Judge Joan Lefko after her husband and mother were murdered. With Senator Dick Durbin's recommendation, McPherson was appointed U.S. Marshal here by President Obama in 2010.

He has less than two years left in his term so it is unclear what Washington will do to fill the top spot in Chicago.

A few weeks into office, one of his deputies, Stephen Linder was accused of punching and choking the father of a fugitive. That case against Linder was dropped when U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ruled prosecutors were "overly aggressive" by threatening witnesses with prosecution.

In the 109-page ruling, Judge Kendall chastised Marshal McPherson for inappropriately helping the prosecution in the investigation. According to McPherson's own testimony, he called Linder in for a meeting and then took him into another room where two investigators were waiting for him.

"This ruse," wrote Kendall, was an effort to catch Linder off guard in hopes he might confess. Kendall said, "The Marshal's role unfortunately had a manipulative effect."
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