Fardon would replace Patrick Fitzgerald, who resigned last summer to enter private practice.
It was the worst-kept secret inside Chicago legal circles: Fardon had been the odds-on favorite for the past couple of months, ever since his name was sent to the White House by Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.
While Fardon was one of four names recommended to President Obama, according to Senator Durbin, Obama made the choice.
Fardon, 46, knows his way around the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. Although the other three candidates had also been assistant prosecutors there, Fardon's track record may have given him an edge.
He was on the team that worked the bribes for license scandal, resulting in dozens of convictions all the way up to Illinois Governor George Ryan.
While corruption is an omnipresent threat in Illinois, Senator Durbin tells ABC7 that he and Senator Kirk expect the U.S. Attorney will focus on escalating street crime and gang violence.
"Zachary Fardon will be an exceptional U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois," Senator Durbin said in a statement. "His range of experience will serve him well in a city and region as diverse and challenging as the Northern District. I spoke to him today and advised him that he'll have to hit the ground running and immediately focus on daily gang and gun violence plaguing the streets of Chicago."
Senator Kirk called Fardon "an outstanding pick to continue Patrick Fitzgerald's tradition of aggressively prosecuting criminal activity that threatens northern Illinois."
President Obama said Wednesday that Fardon is "unwavering in his commitment to justice" and "will serve the people of Illinois with excellence."
The Vanderbilt Law School graduate was raised in Tennessee and for a time served in the U.S. Attorney's office in Nashville.
Recently, Fardon has been in private practice in Chicago and was defense counsel for John Wyma, one-time chief of staff to governor Rod Blagojevich. Wyma's testimony helped convict Blagojevich of corruption.
Former assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Sussman shared a government office with Fardon. Sussman says Fardon will be similar to predecessor Fitzgerald in his leadership style.
"Zach is one of those people who has done a lot of different things," said Sussman. "He's been in government. He's been in the private sector, and so that gives him a well-rounded sense as a criminal lawyer, both on the prosecution and the defense side."
Fardon, an Evanston native, will have 170 assistant federal attorneys under his command.