Zach Fardon talks one-on-one with WGN about tenure as U.S. attorney

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CHICAGO -- Chicago's street violence continues to swell and one man with an inside look at how to combat it sat down with WGN’s Julie Unruh.

Zach Fardon, former U.S. attorney in Chicago, closed one chapter in order to open another. Donald Trump closed that chapter for him last March by firing Fardon and nearly 50 U.S. attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama.

These days, he's opening the doors of a silk-stocking law firm previously with no presence in Chicago.

While his obligations move him forward in the private sector, the events of his recent past are still pretty fresh.

Six months later, he's finally talking about them.

“It was an abrupt decision on March the 10th to release the U.S. attorneys, one that I was disappointed by. That came in the form of a phone call on a Friday afternoon,” Fardon said.

The phone call came from Washington D.C. The standing U.S. attorney in Chicago asked to resign by order of the president. A presidential act that prompted a five-page manifesto. Fiery, emotional and passionate. Fardon pulled an all-nighter to draft and perfect it before saying goodbye to his staff on the following Monday and then leaving it for the media to dissect.

“It was a whirlwind experience, an emotional experience, but I wrote (the letter) for the simple reason that I felt like I had things to say and I had limited time to say them in a way that may get out there and resonate,” he said.

It spelled out very specific ideas on how to improve Chicago--it's gang culture, it's police department with proven practices of abuse and its legal system.

“To me, if you want to prosecute more gang, gun and narcotic cases, then give Chicago more assistant U.S. attorneys,” Fardon said.

During his tenure, Fardon said he made it is mission--his agenda to target gangs, guns, and street violence. A daunting task. He woke up every day and checked the city's overnight shooting statistics. Yet, in his over three years on the job, his work never moved the needle.

Instead of feeling defeated, he decided to press on refusing to give up on what he considers a critical police consent decree for Chicago.

Last January, the gathering of these powerful Chicago figures along with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch was, in his mind, an agreement to get one done. Since then, nothing.

“I know most have written off a consent decree for CPD, I am continuing to carry the flag of we need a consent decree even knowing there is reluctance by this justice department to go down that path,” he said. "it is a huge mistake not to go forward with a consent decree here in Chicago,” he said.

He leaves the office proud of everything he did, Fardon said. No regrets. For him, there was one takeaway: His personal awakening to the violence that plagues the South and West Sides.

“It is the greatest honor of my life to have served in that job…I loved it, I don’t know if I would say it was the best job I’ve ever had, but it’s one that I will always be deeply proud of,” Fardon said.

As for his would be successor, that's John Lausch, nominated by the Trump team. Fardon thinks he's a great pick. A man who knows the office, understands the gang and violence epidemic. A man of integrity. We're still waiting for a confirmation.

He is opening up the Chicago office for Atlanta-based law firm King and Spalding. Globally, they are a thousand lawyers strong. Now, it’s one thousand and one.