CHICAGO (CBS) – U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk met today with Zachary Fardon, the nominee to be the next U.S. Attorney in Chicago, and told him they’d like to see him focus on street gangs and gun violence.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Fardon is awaiting Senate confirmation before taking over for former U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, who stepped down last summer.
Durbin said the next top prosecutor in Chicago can play a critical role in tackling violence on the streets.
“We are appalled at the reporting of these horrific crimes that are taking place in this area,” Durbin said. “The reason for our meeting today was to emphasize – first and foremost – the need for this U.S Attorney’s office to coordinate efforts to stop the violent crime and murder.”
Kirk said he’d like to see federal prosecutors to use racketeering statutes to target the Gangster Disciples, because the two young men charged with killing honor student Hadiya Pendleton are purported Gangster Disciples.
“It’s payback for Hadiya Pendleton’s death,” Kirk said.
Hadiya was killed when she was shot in a Kenwood neighborhood park not far from President Barack Obama’ home. Police and prosecutors have said the gunman and the getaway driver targeted Hadiya and the students she was with, mistaking them for rival gang members.
Kirk said he’d like to see all 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples prosecuted in federal court.
“I am focusing on crushing the Gangster Disciples, and we talked with Zach about that. It’s a pretty big project,” he said. “I think it’s completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang.”
Kirk said he’ll try to get $30 million in federal funding to target street gangs in the Chicago area.
Kirk and Durbin also said prosecution of public corruption must remain a top priority for federal prosecutors.
“We want a U.S. Attorney who can keep us from that Banana Republic status that I worry about, where everything in our state is for sale,” Kirk said.
Durbin said, “We do not want to diminish the commitment and resources when it comes to questions of public corruption.”