Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald

Infobox Person
name = Patrick Fitzgerald

image_size = 200px
caption = Patrick Fitzgerald, Official DOJ Portrait
birth_date = Birth date and age|1960|12|22|mf=y
birth_place = Brooklyn, New York
death_date =
death_place =
occupation = Federal prosecutor, United States Department of Justice
spouse =
parents =
children =

Patrick J. Fitzgerald (born December 22, 1960) is an American attorney and the current United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. 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. [cite news | last =Savage | first =Charlie | title =Ashcroft Steps Aside in Probe Into CIA Leak | publisher =Boston Globe | date =2003-12-31 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16] [cite web | authorlink =John Dean | title = Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation? | publisher = FindLaw| date = 2004-01-06 | url = | accessdate = 2006-09-16]

Early life

Fitzgerald was born into a working-class Irish-American Catholic family in Brooklyn and grew up in the Midwood-Flatbush neighborhood. His father (also named Patrick Fitzgerald) worked as a doorman in Manhattan. His parents both came from Co Clare, Ireland and he regularly visits the country. The last time he visited Ireland was at the Chicago Bar Association Conference in association with the School of Law (University College Dublin)March 2007


Fitzgerald attended Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school, Regis High School, a prestigious Jesuit Catholic school in Manhattan, and received degrees in economics and mathematics from Amherst College before receiving his JD from Harvard Law School in 1985. [cite news | last = Slevin | first = Peter | title = The Prosecutor Never Rests | publisher = The Washington Post | date = 2005-02-02 | url = | accessdate = 2006-09-16] While at Harvard, Fitzgerald was a member of the Harvard Business School Rugby Club.

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 Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family. [cite news | last =Wilson | first =Jamie | title =Workaholic who earned his spurs taking down the mob | publisher =The Guardian | date =2005-10-29 | url =,12271,1604245,00.html | accessdate =2006-09-16] 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. [cite news | last =Harris | first =Paul | title =Saint Patrick's Day | publisher =The Observer | date =2006-02-12 | url =,,1707291,00.html | accessdate =2006-09-16]

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. [cite web| last =Fitzgerald | first=Patrick | title = Testimony of the Honorable Patrick Fitzgerald before the Senate Judiciary Committee | publisher = United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary | date = 2003-10-21 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16] He also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

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.


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, who did not seek re-election in 2002, 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 6 September 2006: Ryan received a sentence of six and one half years, and Warner received a sentence of three years, five months. [cite news | last = Korecki | first = Natasha | coauthors = Herman, Eric & Pallasch, Abdon | title =6 1/2 years for George Ryan | publisher =Chicago Sun-Times | date =2006-09-06 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16]

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." [cite news | last = Davey | first = Monica | coauthors = Ruethling, Gretchen| title = Former Illinois Governor is Convicted in Graft Case| publisher = The New York Times| date = 2006-04-18| url=| accessdate =2006-09-16]

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. Fitzgerald is also investigating the administration of current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. An investigation announced on December 30 2005 will review contracts between the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and vendors who signed leases to occupy the recently remodeled Illinois Tollway oases. Fitzgerald's office is investigating 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.

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 conduct in investigations into corruption in Illinois and Chicago government, as well as for his investigation of the Plame scandal. [cite news | last =Pallasch | first =Abdon | title =Is Fitzgerald's Time Up? | publisher =Chicago Sun-Times | date =2005-08-04 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16] Those "rumors" were not realized, Fitzgerald is now completing his seventh year as US Attorney.

Plame investigation

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." [cite paper | author=Government Accountability Office | title =B-302582, Special Counsel and Permanent Indefinite Appropriation | publisher =Government Accountability Office | date =2004-09-30 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16]

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, and it was widely believed that Karl Rove was the main target of the investigation, although Fitzgerald refused to comment on any specific person.

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." [cite news | last =FDCH e-Media | title =Transcript of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's Press Conference | publisher =The Washington Post | date =2005-10-28 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16]

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. [cite web | last = Hitchens | first= Christopher | authorlink =Christopher Hitchens | title =Plame Out: Plamegate's ridiculous conclusion | publisher =Slate | date =2006-08-29 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16]

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. [] 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. []

An author and former Federal Prosecutor of 20 years, Elizabeth del la Vega, has taken issue with Fitzgerald's critics. [ [ "The White House Criminal Conspiracy"] by Elizabeth del la Vega, published at]

On March 6th 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." [cite news | title=Plame to testify to Congress on leak | publisher=Reuters | date=March 9, 2007 | url=]

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...." [cite news | title=Fitzgerald Ranked During Leak Case | publisher=Washington Post | date=March 20, 2007 | url=] 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. [cite news | last =Eggen | first =Dan | last =Solomon | first =John | title =Gonzales aide rated Fitzgerald mediocre | publisher =Chicago Tribune | date =2007-03-20 | url =,1,807063.story?coll=chi-news-hed | accessdate =2007-04-11] The Washington Post article states that two other prosecutors so ranked were dismissed.

On July 2, 2007, President Bush provided a statement [ [ Statement by the President on Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby] ] 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."

In September 2008, Attorney Alan Dershowitz cited the "questionable investigation" of Scooter Libby as an example of a serious structural flaw inherent in the U.S. criminal justice process. [cite news | first =Alan | last =Dershowitz | title =Indictments Are Not The Best Revenge | publisher =Wall Street Journal | date =2008-09-12 | url = ]

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 1 February 2006, it was first announced that Fitzgerald was indicting nineteen members of a software and movie piracy ring in U.S. Federal Court in Chicago. [cite news | last =Associated Press | title =19 Indicted in Software Piracy Plot | publisher =CBS News | date =2006-02-01 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16] [cite press release| title = 19 Indicted in $6.5 million "RISCISO" Software Piracy Conspiracy | publisher = United States Department of Justice | date = 2006-09-01 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-16|format=PDF]

Engagement and Marriage

On October 18, 2007, the Washington Post broke the story of Fitzgerald's engagement to Jennifer Letzkus. It is his first marriage and her second (Letzkus was married from 2001-2004 to Cisco executive Jeremy Crisup). They are runners and stair climbers, having completed a Turkey Trot, the Mt. Washington climb, and the 23rd Annual New Year's Day 5K Run/Walk, among other events. They were married in a small ceremony on June 7, 2008.

peculation on Possible Attorney General Nomination

Fitzgerald has repeatedly been the subject of speculation about his possible nomination to be Attorney General. These voices, ranging from his undergraduate alma mater's magazine to the Washington Post [] to political blog Fudge Yeti [] have either speculated about or called for Fitzgerald's prospects for the top job at the Justice Department. As of June 2008, neither presidential candidate has commented on this possibility.


See also

*Plame affair timeline
*CIA leak grand jury investigation
*U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel

External links

* [ USDOJ Office of Special Counsel Homepage]

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