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Evanstonian To Fill In As Top Federal Prosecutor in Chicago

Gary Shapiro will serve as acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, taking the place of Patrick Fitzgerald, who announced he was stepping down last month.

An Evanston resident and longtime top-level federal prosecutor in Chicago will become acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois July 1, after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald steps down. 

U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder announced the decision to employees at the United States Attorney’s Office this morning, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice

Outgoing U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced he would step down in late May, after 10 and a half years in the position. During his tenure, Fitzgerald led the prosecution of two governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. 

“Gary Shapiro is a prosecutor’s prosecutor,” Fitzgerald said in a statement from the Department of Justice. “The citizens of the Northern District have been very fortunate to benefit from his public service the last 40 years and will be even more fortunate during his service as acting U.S. attorney.” 

Shapiro has served as first assistant U.S. attorney for the past 14 years, and has worked in various capacities with the justice department and the U.S. attorney’s office since 1972. Notably, he supervised the department’s “Operation Family Secrets,” an investigation targeted at organized crime and the Chicago “Outfit,” also known as the Chicago Mob.

That investigation led to 14 arrests for racketeering and murder and the convictions of Frank Calabrese Sr., Joey “The Clown” Lombardo and James Marcello. Those three members of the “Outfit” were sentenced to life in prison for their alleged involvement in more than a dozen mob murders and attempted murders, according to the Department of Justice. 

Shapiro also helped lead a decade-long investigation into nationwide corruption in the Laborers’ International Union of North America, resulting in an out-of-court settlement and major reorganization of the group’s election policies and internal policing. 

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is working with Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk to find a permanent replacement for Fitzgerald. That person would have to be “bipartisan” or “nonpartisan,” according to a release from Durbin’s office. Within the next two weeks, Durbin said he and Kirk would announce the members of a committee composed of six Illinois lawyers who will be tasked with finding Fitzgerald’s replacement. 

Durbin told the Sun-Times that Fitzgerald had recommended Shapiro for the interim appointment, and that the committee would consider Shapiro for the full-time job, too, if he chose to apply. 

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