1st US federal judge of Armenian descent retiring

The U.S. District Court for northern Illinois says the first immigrant of Armenian descent to sit on the federal bench is retiring.

The Chicago-based court announced Monday that 65-year-old Samuel Der-Yeghiayan’s (YAY’-gee-yahnz) retirement takes effect Feb. 17.

He’s overseen several high-profile cases. In October, he sentenced former college student Abdella Ahmad Tounisi (too-NEE’-see) to a maximum 15-year prison term for seeking to join terrorist-linked militants fighting Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

Der-Yeghiayan was himself born in Aleppo, Syria, to Armenian parents. He grew up in Lebanon and at 19 moved to the U.S. Then-President George W. Bush named him to his court seat in 2003.

Federal judges have the option of partially retiring and taking fewer cases. But Der-Yeghiayan is fully retiring. His cases will be reassigned to other judges.

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