Reid Schar Rezko Blagojevich prosecutor leaving U.S. attorney's office, Former Sidley Austin law firm attorney, Schar Hamilton Niewoehner convicted Rezko

Reid Schar Rezko Blagojevich prosecutor leaving U.S. attorney’s office, Former Sidley Austin law firm attorney, Schar Hamilton Niewoehner convicted Rezko

“Why did Patrick Fitzgerald and the US Justice Department wait until December 2008 to arrest Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

“I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich

“There is enough corruption in Illinois so that all it takes is someone who is serious about finding it to uncover it. If a U.S. attorney is not finding corruption in Illinois, they’re not seriously looking for it.”…Northwestern Law Professor James Lindgren

From the Chicago Tribune January 27, 2012.

“Blagojevich prosecutor leaving U.S. attorney’s office
Reid Schar headed for private practice after 12 years of public service”

“Bringing down a governor or another high-profile defendant is one of those career-defining moments for prosecutors and usually hastens their exit from public service. So it goes forReid Schar.

Schar, the lead prosecutor in both corruption trials of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, will be leaving the U.S. attorney’s office after 12 years, said three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

He plans to go into private practice and has started interviewing with some large law firms, according to people familiar with his plans. Schar declined to comment on his future.

Schar, 39, has been a loyal lieutenant to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, staying longer than most assistant U.S. attorneys. Since September, Schar has served as an adviser to Fitzgerald, giving input on management, personnel, cases and a host of other issues. The promotion came soon after a jury in the second trial convicted Blagojevich of sweeping corruption, including allegations that he tried to sell President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat in 2008.

The Blagojevich conviction is the biggest of several notches on Schar’s belt. In 2008, the same trio of prosecutors that put Blagojevich behind bars — Schar,Carrie Hamilton and Christopher Niewoehner — convicted Tony Rezko, a former Blagojevich fundraiser.

Before Rezko, Schar led the prosecution of Muhammad Salah and Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who were accused of aiding the radical Palestinian groupHamas. The two men were acquitted of being members of Hamas and conspiring to support terrorism. They were convicted of lesser charges, including obstruction of justice.

“His work on the Hamas case, Rezko and Blagojevich are only the most visible ways in which he has been as asset to the office and the citizens of Illinois,” said Jeffrey Cramer, who worked with Schar for 10 years and left in 2009 to head the Chicago office of Kroll, which performs corporate investigations. “His talents will be missed.”

The Blagojevich and Rezko cases augmented the reputation of the U.S. attorney’s office for successfully prosecuting public corruption. Blagojevich’s predecessor in the governor’s mansion, George Ryan, also is behind bars. Patrick Collins, who led the prosecution of Ryan, left the office in 2007, shortly after the former governor was sentenced, to join the law firm of Perkins Coie.

Schar’s looming departure is hardly surprising to observers of the U.S. attorney’s office. There wasn’t much left for Schar to accomplish after successfully prosecuting Blagojevich. Prosecutors also can make a lot more money in private practice. Schar is married and has three young children.

There has been a revolving door between the office and big Chicago law firms for years. Former assistant U.S. attorneys are valuable to law firms and their clients for their ability to handle complex cases and knowledge of criminal and regulatory matters. The revolving door slowed down in the last few years because of the economy and the dearth of white-collar legal work in Chicago.

Schar is interviewing with Chicago-based firms as well as firms in San Francisco. He graduated from Stanford University and received his law degree in 1997 from Northwestern University. He clerked for U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo before briefly working at the Sidley Austin law firm.”–20120127,0,941539.column

Reid Schar Sidley Austin.

Barack Obama Sidley Austin.

Robert Bauer Perkins Coie.

Patrick Collins Perkins Coie.

Ellen Weintraub Perkins Coie.

It’s one big happy family in Chicago.

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