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Chicago’s top federal prosecutor made a rare plea to a judge Thursday, hoping to persuade him against a new sentence for Gangster Disciples co-founder Larry Hoover — a move most believe could return Hoover to the state prison system where he once led his gang.

U.S. Attorney John Lausch spoke at the end of a 40-minute telephonic hearing marred with technical difficulties. Though it was sometimes hard for U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber and the attorneys to hear each other, Lausch was clear: It would be a “miscarriage of justice to reduce (Hoover’s) sentence in any way, shape or form.”

“It simply makes no sense now to give him a chance to run the Gangster Disciples,” Lausch told Leinenweber.

Leinenweber ended Thursday’s hearing without making a decision, but at no point did he reject the idea of a ruling in Hoover’s favor.

Instead, the judge repeatedly asked a prosecutor and Hoover’s defense attorney to help him understand whether the Illinois Department of Corrections had improved since the days of Hoover. In short, the judge asked, “can the state handle Hoover?”

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections did not immediately comment when contacted by the Chicago Sun-Times. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Grayson Walker said he spoke to IDOC officials, and he said “they do not want Mr. Hoover to return to an IDOC facility.”

Hoover ordered a murder in 1973 that led to his conviction in state court and a sentence of 150 to 200 years in Illinois’ prison system. There, the feds say he ran a $100 million-a-year drug business as tens of thousands of gang soldiers continued to work for him in Chicago and other cities.

A federal investigation then led to Hoover’s conviction for running a criminal enterprise. Leinenweber gave Hoover a life sentence in 1998 at the end of a hearing that prompted a finger-pointing confrontation between the two men. Leinenweber told Hoover the charisma he used to gain the loyalty of thousands was proof he could have been a great man.

“You misused a great gift that you received from God,” Leinenweber told Hoover that day.

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