Renato is a Chicago native, born into a blue-collar family on the South Side. His father, a first-generation American who didn’t graduate from high school, worked as a barber and a newspaper deliveryman to help support his family while his mother answered phones at a local insurance agency. Renato excelled as a student and was eventually accepted into the University of Chicago. He and his parents worked extra jobs to help afford his college tuition, and he graduated with honors in 1998, earning entry into Yale Law School.
After law school, Renato clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals and worked as a litigation attorney. After five years in private practice, he returned home to Chicago to become a federal prosecutor.
Renato spent almost ten years as a federal prosecutor investigating and prosecuting hundreds of cases in a wide variety of areas including: child exploitation, human trafficking, cybercrime, gun trafficking, tax evasion, fraud, obstruction of justice, public corruption, narcotics trafficking, and more.
As part of the Department of Justice’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Section, Renato handled the first-ever indictment and prosecution of a high-frequency trader under the anti-spoofing provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, a major case that signaled a sea change in the government’s ability to enforce securities regulations in the era of computer-aided trading. He also secured the convictions of Bogdanov crime family, Block 37 developer Larry Freed, and convicted bank robber Jose Banks, who later escaped from prison after telling fellow inmates that he wanted to kill Renato. Renato was taken into protective custody until Banks was recaptured. Due to the high-profile nature of many of his cases, Renato was twice featured on American Greed, Bill Kurtis’s show about white-collar criminals.
Along with the day-to-day demands of being a federal prosecutor, Renato faced a serious health challenge while serving at the U.S. Attorneys’ Office. In late 2015, he developed an illness that caused him significant pain and at times an inability to stand or walk, initially baffling his doctors. After months of tests he finally got the call from his doctors during the lunch break of a fraud trial—the diagnosis was a rare autoimmune disease caused by a cancerous tumor. Renato returned to trial after lunch, convicted the defendant a week later, and then had surgery to remove the cancer. Today he is lucky enough to be cancer-free, and his experience gave him a personal appreciation for access to affordable quality healthcare.
In 2016, Renato returned to the private sector at the law firm of Thompson Coburn, where he works today, representing clients in many types of high-stakes litigation matters.
Following the election of Donald Trump, Renato began speaking out against the President’s discriminatory and unconstitutional policies. Renato’s clear and thoughtful explanations of complicated legal matters quickly earned him a large Twitter following, already over 100,000 followers. Renato has become a national voice on the Russia investigation and the obstruction concerns caused by Trump’s administration, appearing as a frequent legal contributor and analyst on CNN, MSNBC, and several other media outlets. He also advises members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on their investigation and, in October 2017, Renato was called to Washington to provide his expertise and guidance on executive clemency and other matters. Since Trump’s election, Renato has authored more than twenty-five articles that have critiqued, analyzed, or attacked the President’s actions that have appeared in Newsweek, Politico, and other publications.
In his spare time, Renato has volunteered with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, Cook County’s largest provider of civil legal services to people who can’t afford them. He co-chairs Lawyers4Choice and serves on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society, an organization of progressive lawyers who fight to uphold the rule of law. Renato is a strong environmental advocate who volunteers with the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
Now Renato is poised and determined to continue his life’s work of advocating for justice and equal application of the law as the next Attorney General of the State of Illinois.