U.S. attorney candidates to replace Fitzgerald down to four - FOX 32 News Chicago

U.S. attorney candidates to replace Fitzgerald down to four

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Eleven years ago, Patrick Fitzgerald arrived in Chicago from New York to head the U.S. Attorney's office. When he stepped down in June, he left some big shoes to fill.

"I guess history has shown that he's done sort of an epic job as U.S. attorney and is now stepping down as probably the best known prosecutor in America," says defense attorney Mike Monico.

The candidates to replace Fitzgerald have all worked in the U.S. attorney's office locally, and are all now with big law firms.

Lori Lightfoot previously headed the city department which probes police misconduct, Gil Soffer is a former deputy U.S. Attorney General who specializes in corporate fraud cases, Jonathan Bunge helped to convict Cook County Treasurer Ed Rosewell 13 years ago, and Zach Fardon helped to prosecute George Ryan.

Ron Safer, a former prosecutor, worked with all four people and raves about all of them, but says Lightfoot brings the added benefit of diversity.

"The fact that we have never had a minority or woman head that office or even be the first assistant is really a stunning fact," Safer says.

Patrick Fitzgerald came into the office as an outsider, but none of these candidates will be viewed that way. Two have been fairly active politically. Bunge has donated nearly a $100,000 to democrats like President Obama and Lightfoot has given $18,000--also to democrats.

"I don't think it plays any role. People have political views," Safer says. "It really makes zero difference when you are in the U.S. attorney's office. It's a non-political office."

Safer says great trial lawyers don't necessarily make great U.S. attorneys, because the job is really all about managing. There are also plenty of surprises in the position. Fitzgerald took over on September 1st, 2001 and ten days later, 9/11 happened, with anti-terrorism quickly demanding heightened attention in Chicago and elsewhere.

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