US attorney: No racial bias in Illinois office

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ The U.S. attorney overseeing public-corruption convictions of several black defendants in central Illinois in recent years says racial bias is not involved.

James Lewis is the Justice Department’s prosecutor in Springfield. He spoke Wednesday after black businessman Leon Dingle Jr. and his wife, Karin, who is white, were convicted of stealing $3.4 million in Illinois Department of Public Health grant money.

Lewis says trial evidence “has no color.”

Dr. Eric Whitaker _ the black former public health director and President Barack Obama’s friend _ testified outside the jury’s presence in the trial. He criticized Lewis for a disproportionate number of blacks prosecuted.

Lewis’s boss,Attorney General Eric Holder _ a black man and friend of Whitaker and Obama _ has said his Springfield-based prosecutors act in a “neutral” manner.

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