Gary S. Shapiro, the number two man in the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, will take over after Patrick Fitzgerald steps down this month until a permanent replacement is found.
The announcement came as the state's two senators said they will appoint a six-member committee to screen applicants for the job.
Shapiro has served as first assistant U.S. attorney for the last 14 years, most of that time under Fitzgerald, whose last day is the end of this month.
Shapiro served as chief of the office's criminal division before becoming first assistant. From 1984 until 1990, Shapiro was in charge of all organized crime prosecutions in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
“Gary Shapiro is a prosecutor’s prosecutor. The office could not be in better hands," Fitzgerald said in a statement. “As a trial lawyer and organized crime supervisor, he fearlessly pursued mobsters as well as corrupt politicians and union leaders in cases that were historic in significance. "
"Gary has seen it all," he added.
Shapiro, 65, from Evanston, is married and has a daughter and a son-in-law. He was born in New York City and was raised in Dallas. He graduated from Rice University in 1968 and from the University of Texas School of Law in 1971.
Fitzgerald announced last month that he was stepping down.
Durbin said he and Kirk agree the ideal applicant should be even-handed and bipartisan or nonpartisan. He said it doesn't matter if the next top prosecutor is from Illinois or from the outside, as Fitzgerald was when he was appointed.
Durbin said the committee members could be named within a few days. He and Kirk will interview finalists and make a recommendation to the White House.
Durbin acknowledged the selection process “is a little awkward” because of the Nov. 6 presidential election. The senior senator of the party that controls the White House recommends names for federal prosecutor. But since any senator can stall an appointee, bipartisan support is traditionally needed to advance a name through the Senate confirmation process.
The process of picking a new federal prosecutor will be vastly different from how Fitzgerald got the job. Then-Sen. Peter Fitzgerald contacted then-FBI Director Louis Freeh to ask for a recommendation. Freeh recommended Fitzgerald, then a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.
Durbin acknowledged he spoke with Patrick Fitzgerald about recommending an acting successor. Durbin said Shapiro was recommended, and the senator then discussed it with Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Democratic senator said he may contact Fitzgerald, whom he met with earlier in the day to thank him for his service, when the committee presents its recommendations on a successor.
Fitzgerald “might get a phone call from me … just a confidential opportunity for him to comment on those candidates he knows on the finalists list,” Durbin said.