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CHICAGO — Mitch Mars, the U.S. federal prosecutor in Chicago who just last year won convictions against five mob members who the government showed were responsible for 18 murders since 1970, died Tuesday of lung cancer. Mars, 55, discovered that he had lung cancer shortly after winning the racketeering conspiracy convictions in September after nearly four months in the so-called Family Secrets trial, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a release. After discovering he had cancer, he took a leave from his post as the chief of the organized crime section over the past few months, the release said. “The world of law enforcement will note that it lost a committed and savvy investigator of organized crime, who every few years accomplished time and again what others would hope to accomplish in a lifetime,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in the release. Mars in the late 1970s served on a U.S. House of Representatives select committee that investigated the assassinations of former President John F. Kennedy, his brother former Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He joined the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1978 and in 1980 became the last head of the Organized Crime Strike Force in Chicago before it was merged into the U.S. attorney’s office. “He’s just been such a steady force over the years,” Jim Wagner, the head of the Chicago Crime Commission, told The National Law Journal last year in commenting on Mars for a profile of the federal prosecutor during the mob trial.

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