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Former Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago analyst avoids prison

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago senior analyst avoided prison time Monday after admitting he stole confidential financial records from the bank as he prepared to quit and take another job. | Google Streetview

A former Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago senior analyst avoided prison time Monday after admitting he stole confidential financial records from the bank as he prepared to quit and take another job.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason sentenced Jeffrey Cho to two years of probation and six months of home confinement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He must also pay a $20,000 fine.

Cho pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor count of theft of property and faced up to a year in prison. The feds say Cho had access to “sensitive, proprietary and valuable information” that included data related to the bank’s responsibility to monitor the health of other financial institutions. They say he printed one confidential document and took it home before accepting a job with an unnamed employer May 12. Then he printed 31 more and took those home.

Finally, prosectors say he printed three documents May 26, the day he resigned from the bank.

When the FBI initially confronted him, prosecutors say, Cho denied taking the papers home. Later, he turned over four of them and told the feds he shredded the rest. On June 6, they say he turned over a bag full of shredded documents to the FBI.

Prosecutors also say Cho admitted printing similar documents while interviewing for a job with a different company in March 2015.

“At first blush, Jeffrey Cho can be viewed as a young man who made a stupid mistake by taking confidential documents out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani wrote in a court filing asking the judge to give Cho between six months and a year in prison. “However, there is more to the story. Cho fully knew the sensitive nature of the materials that he stole, he stole them prior to interviewing for jobs on two occasions where those materials could be helpful to him, he lied about having the materials when approached by the FBI, and he then found a shredder and shredded all the evidence.”