I-TEAM: U.S. Marshal officially out in Chicago; interim replacement named

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One week after the ABC7 I-Team revealed the sudden and unusual resignation of United States Marshal Darryl McPherson, his superiors in Washington have finally confirmed the shake-up in Chicago.

"Joel Kirch, the chief deputy is now the acting U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois for the US Marshal Service" said Drew Wade, chief public affairs officer for the Marshal Service in Washington, DC on Tuesday morning.

The I-Team first reported that McPherson had resigned from the presidentially-appointed position effective last Friday and would accept demotion to another job in Chicago.

Even though 16 months remained on McPherson's term, a permanent replacement will be sought, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois.) Durbin "will recommend one or more candidates to the White House to fill the vacancy, but we just got the news of the vacancy ourselves and we don't have any announcements yet regarding the process or timing" said Christina Angarola, Durbin's Illinois communications director.

"Sen. Durbin will work to get the most qualified person nominated and confirmed as quickly as possible" Angarola said. A spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) said that Kirk would huddle with Durbin to ensure the best selection.

Oddly, Justice Department officials declined to verify the report even though McPherson had turned in his resignation and announced the decision to his colleagues in the office.

While unusual and with unexpected timing, McPherson's resignation should not have been a surprise to those following his travails. The I-Team revealed a year ago that McPherson was subject of a Justice Department investigation targeting financial mismanagement of the office.

Federal sources familiar with the McPherson situation last week told the I-Team:

McPherson was being pressured for some time to step down and that pressure intensified after the internal investigation report was released. It is said to be a scathing evaluation of McPherson's performance.

Even though the investigation is complete, Marshal Service officials could take still disciplinary action against Chicago office employees.

His assignment to a new, lesser position in Chicago is highly unusual. Typically when a marshal is finished serving, they go to another city.

McPherson will be a Judicial Security Inspector -- a demotion of two levels. He will report to Washington, DC headquarters, not to the Chicago office. He will handle security if a Supreme Court justice comes to the area, etc. He is supposed to start this position September 2nd.

Eyewitness News 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.

An audit of the office and it's 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 DC 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.

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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