By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Long-time Chicago prosecutor Gary S. Shapiro will become acting U.S. attorney on July 1 after Patrick J. Fitzgerald, known for his hard line on political corruption, steps down from the post, the U.S. Attorney's office said Monday.
Also Monday, the state's two senators have agreed to appoint a six-member bipartisan committee to screen applicants for Fitzgerald's permanent replacement.
Shapiro, 65, who is Fitzgerald's second in command as first assistant U.S. attorney, has a total of four decades of experience as a federal prosecutor in Chicago.
"Gary Shapiro is a prosecutor's prosecutor. The Office could not be in better hands," Fitzgerald said in a statement.
Shapiro has been involved in supervising investigations and prosecutions involving terrorism, public corruption, corporate fraud, and organized crime, including violent crime and gang and narcotics prosecutions, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Born in New York City and brought up in Dallas, Shapiro graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1971.
Fitzgerald, 51, is the longest-serving U.S. attorney in Chicago history. He has overseen thousands of criminal cases, including two consecutive Illinois governors, organized crime bosses, former Chicago officials who rigged city hiring, and supporters of terrorism.
He also was lead counsel in the 2007 perjury trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff and national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat, said Monday that he and fellow Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican, have agreed that once their search committee has made recommendations, the senators will review them and conduct interviews with finalists.
They will then agree on a list of names to send to the White House. The president then submits a nomination to the U.S. Senate.
(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune and Vicki Allen)