New federal prosecutor nominated for Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — The Obama administration has picked a private attorney and former federal prosecutor to head the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announced Thursday.

Zachary Fardon would replace Patrick Fitzgerald, who stepped down last summer to enter private practice. Fitzgerald rose to national prominence during more than a decade in the office and successfully convicted two Illinois governors.

The U.S. Senate must confirm Fardon’s nomination.

The post is widely regarded as Chicago’s second-most powerful job, after the mayor. The chief prosecutor and around 170 assistant attorneys also have an impact beyond Illinois, including by handling major terrorism cases.

Fardon, a partner at the Chicago law firm Latham Watkins, was on the team of federal prosecutors who secured convictions against former Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan in 2006. In that case and in others, Fardon gained a reputation as an adept, quick-witted cross-examiner.

Fardon, who has also served in the U.S. attorney’s office in Nashville, Tenn., later entered private practice. Among his clients was John Wyma, a longtime lobbyist and friend of former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose testimony helped convict Ryan of corruption.

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