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Ronald S. Safer

Managing Partner, Schiff Hardin LLP

Ronald S. Safer concentrates in white collar criminal defense and also participates in our firm's civil litigation practice.

Mr. Safer, working with Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions, obtained a not guilty verdict for the firm's client, Julie Rea Harper. This trial involved the defense of a mother being retried for the murder of her son, even though a convicted felon in another state had confessed to the crime. Mr. Safer and his litigation team successfully discredited the prosecution's case, and her acquittal highlighted the need to reform the special prosecutor system in Illinois. ABC-TV's20/20 broadcast a feature story on this case, spotlighting Mr. Safer, in March 2007.

Mr. Safer has lectured for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on various subjects including the use of RICO, complex financial frauds, and numerous areas of trial practice.

Mr. Safer continues to lecture for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concerning complex investigations.

Professional Experience

Mr. Safer was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois from 1989 until he rejoined Schiff Hardin in 1999.

As Chief of the Criminal Division at the time he left the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mr. Safer oversaw all financial fraud cases and supervised all 100 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the division. Earlier, he served as Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecution Section (also overseeing all financial fraud cases) and Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Division.

Mr. Safer successfully prosecuted literally hundreds of defendants during his tenure in the U.S. Attorney's Office, including:

  • Dina Abdel Haq, for crimes relating to the murder of her infant daughter. Specifically, Abdel Haq was convicted of mail fraud for attempting to collect the proceeds of a $200,000 insurance policy she had purchased on her daughter's life. This was the first case to charge an apparent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) death in a murder-related crime in federal court.
  • United States v. Richard Baileyet al., in which the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law was used to solve and prosecute the murder of candy heiress Helen Brach.
  • Larry Hoover and the rest of the leadership of the most populous and ruthless gang in the country, the Gangster Disciples. This project incarcerated more than 50 of the top leaders of this gang, the membership of which numbered in excess of 30,000. The gang had drug sales in Chicago of more than $100 million. In the course of this project, Mr. Safer also obtained the first death penalty sentence in federal court in the Seventh Circuit.

Mr. Safer's role in the Gangster Disciples prosecution was described in a feature story in Newsweek, November 1, 1999. Mr. Safer also is spotlighted in the City Confidential and American Justice television programs produced for the A&E cable television network and on "The Prosecutors" television program produced for theDiscovery Channel.

Education
  • Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., magna cum laude, 1983)
  • University of Pennsylvania (B.S., Economics — Wharton School, History — Faculty of Arts and Sciences, cum laude, 1979)

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Publications and Multimedia
Honest Services Fraud: What's Left? - Event Audio
Chicago Lawyers Chapter and Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group
March 14, 2011