Former federal prosecutor says Urlacher pardon sent agents' work 'up in smoke'
With this week's pardon of Casey Urlacher, the Mettawa mayor indicted last year on federal charges of gambling conspiracy and conducting an illegal gambling business, months and possibly years of work by federal officials likely "went up in smoke," according to a former assistant U.S. attorney.
Renato Mariotti said he expects that outgoing President Donald Trump's pardon announcement "was very deflating to prosecutors who worked on the case." However, Mariotti acknowledged that prosecutors recognize pardons are within a president's power to grant.
"I'm sure they've already turned to the next case," said Mariotti, a partner with the Thompson Coburn law firm and a Naperville native.
Urlacher's case is atypical in that Trump pardoned him before his case went to trial.
"Usually, pardons don't occur until well after a case is complete," Mariotti said. "This is an unusual circumstance. Pardons are rare in a case that is ongoing."
Urlacher, the younger brother of former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher, was charged along with nine other people in an illegal sports gambling scheme. Among those charged was Vincent DelGiudice of Orland Park, who authorities said recruited Casey Urlacher to enlist new gamblers and collect or pay out cash.
"Where does this leave Mr. DelGiudice?" asked Mariotti. "If Mr. Urlacher merited a pardon, why not the other defendants?"
Why was "Casey Urlacher able to escape justice but his co-defendant was not?" Marrioti said.
Mariotti was a federal prosecutor during the prosecution of Conrad Black, whom Trump pardoned, and the prosecution of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose prison sentence Trump commuted.
Urlacher could not be reached for comment this week. A statement from the White House Tuesday said the pardon is supported by Urlacher's friends and family.
"Throughout his life, Mr. Urlacher has been committed to public service and has consistently given back to his community," the White House statement continued.
Urlacher's pardon is unlikely to have an impact on his co-defendants' pending cases unless they conclude with convictions. By law, judges must "avoid unwarranted sentence disparities" among defendants with similar records convicted of similar crimes, Mariotti said.
If the co-defendants are convicted, their attorneys could argue against lengthy sentences reasoning that if one of the "co-conspirators is getting off scot-free, sentencing the other co-conspirators to lengthy sentences would be inequitable," he said.
DelGiudice is scheduled to plead guilty to charges against him on Feb. 4, according to a U.S. attorney spokesman who declined to comment on Urlacher's case.
Urlacher, who served two terms as Mettawa's mayor, is not running in the April 6 election.