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SPRINGFIELD - A McLean County native with extensive experience as a federal prosecutor was named interim U.S. attorney for Illinois' central district Wednesday.

Rodger Heaton, who formerly was a supervisor in the office, will serve as the top prosecutor for 120 days while officials search for a permanent replacement for outgoing U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller.

Miller is leaving the $140,900-a-year post after four years to join a St. Louis law firm.

Heaton, 46, is among a handful of attorneys who have expressed interest in taking the post on a permanent basis. Others include state Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Urbana, and Darin LaHood, son of U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, a Peoria Republican.

Heaton, a native of Lexington who received his law degree from Indiana University, began his career as a federal prosecutor in 1989. He spent two years in private practice beginning in 2001 and returned to the central district in May 2003.

The central district covers 46 Illinois counties, ranging from Rock Island in the north to Paris on the eastern side of the state.

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