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Judge convicted of fraud drops retention bid

Cook County judge Jessica Arong O'Brien, 49, leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on April 26, 2017. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

The Cook County judge who lost a bid to contest her fraud conviction has dropped her attempt to seek retention in November.

Jessica Arong O’Brien filed the notice to end her bid with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office late Wednesday. She said she was bowing out of the race “in light of the federal court’s ruling in my case yesterday.”

A day earlier, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin denied her motions for an acquittal or new trial. Federal jurors had found her guilty of fraud in February after prosecutors said she pocketed $325,000 during a mortgage fraud scheme that took place more than a decade ago — before she became a judge.

Despite the verdict hanging over her for months, O’Brien had filed paperwork to seek retention in the November election and fought to stay on the ballot — until Wednesday.

O’Brien will be sentenced Oct. 9.

The Illinois Supreme Court was set to rule on a complaint that sought to keep her off the November ballot.