By Annie Sweeney and Christi Parsons
11:52 PM EDT, March 17, 2013
A former federal prosecutor who helped convict former Gov. George Ryan appears to be the favorite to succeed Patrick Fitzgerald as the next U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, sources in Washington and Chicago told the Tribune.
The sources said Zachary Fardon, 46, is the leading candidate to be nominated to the federal law enforcement post in Chicago.
The White House declined to comment Sunday, saying that the internal selection process was still in motion.
The other finalist is believed to be Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago whose appointment would be a groundbreaking one — the first woman and first African-American U.S. attorney in Chicago. She is a partner with Chicago law firm Mayer Brown.
Both Fardon and Lightfoot declined to comment publicly on the matter.
Fardon would be a popular choice with the Chicago legal community. He is well regarded, experienced, a savvy trial lawyer and known for a down-to-earth style.
Fardon, who grew up in Tennessee, worked for many years in Chicago as an assistant U.S. attorney, rising to become a key player on the team that obtained Ryan's wide-ranging corruption conviction in 2006 after a six-month trial. He then served in the No. 2 post in the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville before returning to Chicago to join law firm Latham & Watkins as a partner.
Fitzgerald was plucked from the U.S. attorney's office in New York, where he became among the nation's foremost terrorism experts. He stepped down last June as Chicago's chief federal prosecutor after serving a record nearly 11 years, overseeing the prosecutions of Ryan, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and numerous other public officials, mob figures and alleged terrorists.
Tribune reporter Jennifer Delgado contributed.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC