By Farrah Fazal 5 on Your Side investigator
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. (KSDK) - The reception desk to the left of the big glass doors of the U.S. Attorney's office in Fairview Heights is empty. Many of the offices and conference rooms have no sigh of life.
"I was forced to furlough 35 percent of my staff," said Steve Wigginton. "I had to furlough receptionists, legal assistants, Asst U.S. Attorneys, I had to furlough support staff, students. I had to furlough several single mothers with children. They're not going to be paid, that's very difficult. It's heartbreaking, these are good people. They are your neighbors."
The workers are gone, but the work is still here. U.S. attorneys aren't fighting scam artists ripping you off. Government workers going after people misusing your tax dollars aren't working right now.
"The ongoing investigations into those cases, are not ongoing right now," said Wigginton.
His criminal attorneys are working because under the law, they must file court paperwork in their cases in a timely way.
"Even the people who are working without pay, there's no guarantee we get paid. It's right here at home it's right here in St. Louis, in each courthouse," he said.
The longer the shutdown goes on, the harder it will be to recover. He said the cases may stall, they will pile up. Wigginton said furloughed workers already went through budget cuts, sequestration and frozen salaries.
Two of his attorneys are considering leaving public service because they've had enough. He said they could make much more in the private sector but they chose to stay to serve their country. He worries, the shutdown will be the last straw for many workers.
You can watch Wigginton's raw interview by clicking the video player to the left of this story.