Blagojevich prosecutor joins firm
CHICAGO (AP) – The U.S. government attorney who took the lead prosecuting Rod Blagojevich and who butted heads with the former Illinois governor in court said Monday there is one group of potential clients he’d rather not represent now that he is going into private practice: politicians.
Reid Schar, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, declined to directly discuss the prosecution of the now-imprisoned Blagojevich in an interview at the law offices of Jenner & Block, where he is scheduled to start his new job next month.
“It would be fair to say I have no interest in representing political figures accused of wrongdoing,” he said. “I have seen the toll corruption takes on this state.”
Word that Schar will start work at one of Chicago’s largest law firms came shortly after his boss, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, said he was resigning to consider new career options. He didn’t immediately say where he would end up but seemed to suggest he would prefer another government job.
Schar had announced he was leaving months before Fitzgerald made his own announcement two weeks ago. Schar declined to talk Monday about how long he knew of Fitzgerald’s planned departure.
Schar, a 40-year-old father of three young children, said there were multiple factors in his own decision. Among them, he said, he wanted to make room for younger, up-and-coming federal prosecutors at the Chicago office.
He added that he didn’t think the priorities of one of the highest profile U.S. Attorney’s offices in the country will change once Fitzgerald, Schar himself and others were gone.
“I don’t think it will change much at all,” he said, likening a prosecutor’s office to a massive ship that never makes sharp turns.
In many ways, Schar, seen as a right-hand man of Fitzgerald’s, mirrored his boss’s personality: Cool and meticulous, he typically eschewed theatrics.
A rare occasion where Schar let his emotion show came at Blagojevich’s retrial last year when a visibly agitated Schar stepped forward to begin a blistering cross-examining the twice-elected governor.
Jumping up from the prosecution table, Schar nearly yelled his first question, asking Blagojevich, “Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?” It was a reference to the sole conviction at his first, largely deadlocked trial of lying to the FBI.
After a flurry of defense objections, Blagojevich eventually answered softly, “Yes.”
In his job out of the stylish high-rise offices of Jenner & Block, Schar says his focus likely will be on internal company investigations, though he will do some courtroom work.
In March, Blagojevich began serving a 14-year-old sentence on 18 corruption convictions, which included charges he sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a job.
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