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Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald, Official DOJ Portrait

Incumbent
Assumed office 
October 24, 2001
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama

Born December 22, 1960 (1960-12-22) (age 49)
Brooklyn, New York
Citizenship United States
Nationality Irish-American
Ethnicity Caucasian
Spouse(s) Jennifer Letzkus
Alma mater Amherst College (B.A.), Harvard Law School (JD)
Occupation United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

Patrick J. Fitzgerald (born December 22, 1960) is the current United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and a member of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel. He was the federal prosecutor in charge of the investigation of the Valerie Plame Affair, which led to the prosecution and conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.[1][2] He has been involved in a number of other high-profile cases, pursuing Illinois Governor George Ryan, media mogul Lord Conrad Black, several aides to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in the Hired Truck Program, and Chicago detective and torturer Jon Burge. His office is currently investigating an alleged conspiracy to sell Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, which led to the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on December 9, 2008 on corruption charges.

Contents

Personal

Fitzgerald was born into an Irish-American Catholic family in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, growing up in the Midwood-Flatbush neighborhood. His father (also Patrick Fitzgerald) worked as a doorman in Manhattan.

Fitzgerald attended Our Lady of Help Christian's grammar school, before going on to Regis High School, a prestigious Jesuit Catholic school in Manhattan, and received degrees in economics and mathematics from Amherst College, Phi Beta Kappa, before receiving his JD from Harvard Law School in 1985.[3] Fitzgerald played rugby at Amherst [2] and while at Harvard, he was a member of the Harvard Business School Rugby Club.

Fitzgerald married Jennifer Letzkus in June, 2008.[4][5] It is his first marriage and her second; Letzkus was married from 2001 to 2004 to Cisco executive Jeremy Crisup. Their son Conor Patrick Fitzgerald was born on December 21, 2009.

Career

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New York

After practicing civil law, Fitzgerald became an Assistant United States Attorney in New York City in 1988. He handled drug-trafficking cases and in 1993 assisted in the prosecution of Mafia figure John Gambino, a boss of the Gambino crime family.[6] In 1994, Fitzgerald became the prosecutor in the case against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[7]

In 1996, Fitzgerald became the National Security Coordinator for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. There, he served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden.[8] He also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Illinois

On September 1, 2001, Fitzgerald was nominated for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on the recommendation of U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), a Republican from Illinois. On October 24, 2001, the nomination was confirmed by the Senate. The Senator had urged the selection precisely because Patrick was not from Chicago (Patrick said that he had visited Chicago only one day -- for a wedding in 1982 -- before being selected).[9]

Soon after becoming U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, Fitzgerald began an investigation of political appointees of Republican Illinois Governor George Ryan, who were suspected of accepting bribes to give licenses to unqualified truck drivers. Fitzgerald soon expanded this investigation, uncovering a network of political bribery and gift-giving, and leading to more than 60 indictments. Ryan was indicted in December 2003. At the conclusion of the trial, in April 2006, Ryan was found guilty on all eighteen counts against him. Ryan's co-defendant, Chicago businessman Larry Warner, 67, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, attempted extortion, and money laundering. The two were sentenced on September 6, 2006: Ryan received a sentence of six and one half years, and Warner received a sentence of three years, five months.[10]

Against criticism that these cases were based on circumstantial evidence, Fitzgerald responded: "People now know that if you're part of a corrupt conduct, where one hand is taking care of the other and contracts are going to people, you don't have to say the word 'bribe' out loud.... And I think people need to understand we won't be afraid to take strong circumstantial cases into court."[11]

On July 18, 2005, Fitzgerald's office indicted a number of top aides to Democrat Richard M. Daley, the mayor of Chicago, on charges of mail fraud, alleging numerous instances of corruption in hiring practices at City Hall.[12] An investigation announced on December 30, 2005 stated that it intended to review contracts between the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and vendors who signed leases to occupy the remodeled Illinois Tollway oasis. Fitzgerald's office investigated possible conflicts of interest between these vendors and one of Blagojevich's top fundraisers, Antoin Rezko.

In March 2006, former Chicago City Clerk James Laski pled guilty to pocketing nearly $50,000 in bribes for steering city business to two trucking companies. Thus far Laski is the highest-ranking Chicago official and Daley administration employee brought down by Fitzgerald's office in conjunction with the Hired Truck Program scandal.

Since April 2007, Fitzgerald has overseen Operation Crooked Code, the investigation and prosecution of over two dozen defendants for bribery and related charges in City of Chicago's Departments of Buildings and Zoning.[13]

On December 9, 2008, federal agents arrested Governor Blagojevich for conspiring to profit from his authority to appoint President Barack Obama's successor to the U.S. Senate. Fitzgerald said Blagojevich "put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator."[14]

U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald chose not to run for reelection in 2004, leaving Patrick Fitzgerald without a congressional patron. In the summer of 2005, there were rumors that he would not be reappointed to a second four-year term in retaliation for his investigations into corruption in Illinois and Chicago government, as well as for his investigation of the Plame scandal.[15] Those "rumors" were not realized; Fitzgerald is now completing his seventh year as U.S. Attorney.

President Barack Obama has since pledged to keep Fitzgerald on as a U.S. attorney.[16]

Notable cases

Plame investigation

On December 30, 2003, after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the CIA leak grand jury investigation of the Plame affair due to conflicts of interest, Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, acting as Attorney General in Ashcroft's place, appointed Fitzgerald to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel in charge of the investigation.[1][2]

On December 30, 2003, three months after the start of the Plame investigation, Fitzgerald was appointed Special Counsel (under Department of Justice regulation 28 CFR Part 600). Through this, Fitzgerald was delegated "all the authority of the Attorney General" in the matter. In February 2004, Acting Attorney General Comey clarified the delegated authority and stated that Fitzgerald has plenary authority. Comey also wrote "further, my conferral on you of the title of 'Special Counsel' in this matter should not be misunderstood to suggest that your position and authorities are defined and limited by 28 CFR Part 600."[17]

On October 28, 2005, Fitzgerald brought an indictment for 5 counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff. Libby resigned to prepare for his legal defense. Fitzgerald indicated that the leak investigation was not over but refused to comment on any specific suspects.

In his first press conference after announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald was asked about comments by Republicans such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, who said "I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality..." Fitzgerald responded, "That talking point won't fly... The truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost . . . if we were to walk away from this, we might as well hand in our jobs."[18]

By March 28, 2006, some bloggers were reporting that on the basis of interviews with people close to the Plame investigation, indictments against Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley were imminent. However, by mid-June 2006, it was announced that no charges were going to be brought against Rove. In early April, The New York Times ran a front page story linking Libby to a leak, supposedly ordered by Dick Cheney, that Iraq had been attempting to acquire uranium in 2002. By the thirteenth of the month, many media outlets, including the New York Times, retracted this story, after discovering that the basis of this claim was based on papers filed with the courts the previous week. These papers themselves were corrected via formal statements from Fitzgerald.

On August 28, 2006, Christopher Hitchens claimed that Richard Armitage was the primary source of the Valerie Plame leak, and that Fitzgerald knew this at the beginning of his investigation.[19]

Robert Novak's testimony in the Lewis Libby perjury trial made it known that the two senior administration sources he cited in his article were Richard Armitage and Karl Rove.[20] Journalist Michael Isikoff received confirmation from Rove's lawyer and from lobbyist Richard Hohlt that Rove was also faxed an advance copy of the article revealing a CIA covert agent's identity several days before it was published.[21]

On March 6 2007, Libby was convicted of 4 out of 5 charges of lying under oath. Fitzgerald announced on the courthouse steps that while he is always open to receiving new information related to the case, he expects to file no further charges, and the prosecutors will "return to their day jobs." Libby was sentenced to a $250,000 fine, 2 years of probation and a 2 1/2 year prison term. After a court of appeals rejected Libby's attempt to delay the prison sentence while he appealed the verdict, President George W. Bush commuted the prison portion of Libby's sentence.

Two days after the verdict, Congressman Henry Waxman, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, announced that his committee would ask Plame to testify on March 16, in an effort by his committee to look into "whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding Plame's identity."[22]

In March 2007, it was revealed that Fitzgerald "was ranked among prosecutors who had 'not distinguished themselves' on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005..."[23] This was revealed in light of an investigation of the December 2006 firings of several U.S. Attorneys by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, perceived as being politically motivated and despite his previous Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002.[24] The Washington Post article states that two other prosecutors so ranked were dismissed.

On July 2, 2007, President Bush provided a statement[25] on his decision to commute Mr. Libby's prison sentence and noted:

"After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged."

Conrad Black and Hollinger

On November 17, 2005, Fitzgerald brought criminal fraud charges against former Canadian media mogul, Lord Conrad Black, as well as against three other Hollinger executives.

The trial of Lord Black began at the Federal Court in Chicago in March 2007. Black was convicted on July 13, 2007 and later sentenced to serve 78 months in federal prison, pay Hollinger $6.1 million and a fine of $125,000.

Risciso indictments

On February 1, 2006, it was first announced that Fitzgerald was indicting nineteen members of Risciso, a software and movie piracy ring, in U.S. District Court in Chicago.[26][27]

Blagojevich corruption arrest

On December 9, 2008, Fitzgerald confirmed in a press conference in Chicago that Illinois state governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, had been arrested by the FBI early that morning on charges of corruption. Fitzgerald described Blagojevich's actions as the "kind of conduct [that] would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."[28] Blagojevich was charged with mail fraud and solicitation of a bribe. According to Fitzgerald, Blagojevich attempted to sell off President-elect Barack Obama's open U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, as well as pressuring the Chicago Tribune to fire editors critical of the Blagojevich administration in exchange for state assistance in selling Wrigley Field.[29] Fitzgerald said at the news conference that, "I laid [sic] awake at night," worrying about the possible firing of Tribune editors.[30]

Fitzgerald's news conference has been criticized by some, including charges that he violated ethical guidelines established by the Justice Department. Victoria Toensing, a former Jusitice Department official, wrote in an editorial to the Wall Street Journal that prosecutors are allowed to "inform the public of the nature and extent" of the charges against the defendant, but cannot "[make] extrajudicial comments that pose a serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused." Toensing contends that statements like "The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," or that Blagojevich's actions represented "a truly new low" were in clear violation of this rule.[31]

"Fitzmas"

"Fitzmas" was a term used on some left-wing blogs, starting in October 2005, to refer to an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation that Fitzgerald's indictment of Scooter Libby in the Plame investigation would be followed by indictments of other members of the Bush administration, such as Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, in the next few months.[32]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Savage, Charlie (2003-12-31). "Ashcroft Steps Aside in Probe Into CIA Leak". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/12/31/ashcroft_steps_aside_in_probe_into_cia_leak/. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  2. ^ a b "Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?". FindLaw. 2004-01-06. http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20040106.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  3. ^ Slevin, Peter (2005-02-02). "The Prosecutor Never Rests". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A55560-2005Feb1.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  4. ^ US Attorney Fitzgerald marries teacher ABC Local, June 17, 2008
  5. ^ Patrick Fitzferald Time, December 11, 2008
  6. ^ Wilson, Jamie (2005-10-29). "Workaholic who earned his spurs taking down the mob". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1604245,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  7. ^ Harris, Paul (2006-02-12). "Saint Patrick's Day". The Observer. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,1707291,00.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  8. ^ Fitzgerald, Patrick (2003-10-21). "Testimony of the Honorable Patrick Fitzgerald before the Senate Judiciary Committee". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=965&wit_id=2741. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  9. ^ U.S. Attorneys Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago and James Comey of Manhattan are both tough-minded career prosecutors. They're also best friends - American Lawyer - December 11, 2008
  10. ^ Korecki, Natasha; Herman, Eric & Pallasch, Abdon (2006-09-06). "6 1/2 years for George Ryan". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/output/ryan/cst-nws-ryan075.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  11. ^ Davey, Monica; Ruethling, Gretchen (2006-04-18). "Former Illinois Governor is Convicted in Graft Case". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/18/us/18ryan.html?ex=1303012800&en=b2e2db299e1900dd&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  12. ^ Eisenberg, Daniel (2005-08-01). "Ghosts in the Machine". Time. Time Inc.. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1088735,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-03.  
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Davey, Monica; Jack Healy (2008-12-09). "Illinois Governor Charged in Scheme to Sell Obama’s Seat". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/us/politics/10Illinois.html?hp.  
  15. ^ Pallasch, Abdon (2005-08-04). "Is Fitzgerald's Time Up?". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/output/elect/cst-nws-fitz04.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  16. ^ Pete Yost, Fitzgerald an aggressive prosecutor, Associated Press (December 9, 2008).
  17. ^ Government Accountability Office (2004-09-30). B-302582, Special Counsel and Permanent Indefinite Appropriation. Government Accountability Office. http://www.gao.gov/decisions/appro/302582.htm. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  18. ^ FDCH e-Media (2005-10-28). "Transcript of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's Press Conference". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/28/AR2005102801340.html. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  19. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (2006-08-29). "Plame Out: Plamegate's ridiculous conclusion". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2148555. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  20. ^ "Columnist testifies Rove confirmed Plame was CIA". CNN.com. 2007-02-12. http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/02/12/cia.leak/index.html.  
  21. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17202408/site/newsweek/
  22. ^ "Plame to testify to Congress on leak". Reuters. March 9, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/09/AR2007030900549.html.  
  23. ^ "Fitzgerald Ranked During Leak Case". Washington Post. March 20, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/19/AR2007031902036.html?sub=AR.  
  24. ^ Solomon, John (2007-03-20). "Gonzales aide rated Fitzgerald mediocre". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0703200151mar20,1,807063.story?coll=chi-news-hed. Retrieved 2007-04-11.  
  25. ^ Statement by the President on Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby
  26. ^ Associated Press (2006-02-01). "19 Indicted in Software Piracy Plot". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/01/tech/main1270188.shtml. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  27. ^ United States Department of Justice (2006-09-01). "19 Indicted in $6.5 million "RISCISO" Software Piracy Conspiracy" (PDF). Press release. http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2006/pr0201_01.pdf. Retrieved 2006-09-16.  
  28. ^ "Ill. governor arrested in corruption scandal". Chicago: Associated Press. 2008-12-09. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/blagojevich_corruption_probe.  
  29. ^ "Fitzgerald: 'New low' in Illinois politics". Breaking News (Chicago: Tribune Company). 2008-12-09. http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/12/us-attorney-fitzgerald-press-conference-blagojevich.html.  
  30. ^ "TRANSCRIPT – Justice Department Briefing on Blagojevich Investigation". The New York Times. 2008-12-09. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/09/us/politics/09text-illinois.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.  
  31. ^ "Fitzgerald Should Keep His Opinions to Himself". Wall Street Journal. 2008-12-15. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122913032247103429.html.  
  32. ^ THE FIRST "FITZMAS", Language Log, October 30, 2005
  33. ^ Fitzgerald Named "Fed of The Year" by ticklethewire.com

External links


This article uses content from the SourceWatch article on Patrick Fitzgerald under the terms of the GFDL.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Patrick Fitzgerald (born December 22, 1960) is an American attorney and the current U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. On December 30, 2003, Fitzgerald was appointed to be Department of Justice Special Prosecutor and continued the investigation into the Valerie Plame leak.

Sourced

  • A CIA officer's name was blown and there was a leak and we needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it. Given national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.
    • CIA probe 'not over' after Cheney's top aide indicted on CNN.com (October 28, 2005)[1]
  • When citizens testify before grand juries they are required to tell the truth. Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nation or its citizens.
    • CIA probe 'not over' after Cheney's top aide indicted on CNN.com (October 28, 2005)
  • Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And he lied about it afterward, under oath and repeatedly.
    • Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment on ABCnews.com (October 28, 2005) [2]
  • Libby was advised by the vice president of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA in the counterproliferation division. Libby understood that the vice president had learned this information from the CIA.
    • Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment on ABCnews.com (October 28, 2005)
  • We brought those cases because we realized that the truth is the engine of our judicial system. We didn't get the straight story, and we had to - had to - act.
    • Cheney Aide Charged With Lying in Leak Case New York Times (October 29, 2005) [3]
  • I can't give you answers on what we know and don't know, other than what's charged in the indictment. It's not because I enjoy being in that position. It's because the law is that way. I actually think the law should be that way. We can't talk about information not contained in the four corners of the indictment.
    • Fitzgerald News Conference from nytimes.com (October 28, 2005) [4]
  • My job is to investigate whether or not a crime is committed, can be proved and should be charged. I'm not going to comment on what to make beyond that. You know, it's not my jurisdiction, not my job, not my judgment.
    • Fitzgerald News Conference from nytimes.com (October 28, 2005)
  • Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.

    If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, "I've got bad blood with this batter. He hit two home runs off me. I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can."

    You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between.

    You might learn that you wanted to hit the batter in the back and it hit him in the head because he moved. You might want to throw it under his chin, but it ended up hitting him on the head.

    And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You'd want to know: What happened in the dugout? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know.

    And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, "Hey, the person threw a bad pitch. Get over it."

    In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.

    And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?

    Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?

    And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.

    • Fitzgerald News Conference from the Washington Post (October 28, 2005)

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