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Patrick Fitzgerald

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (since 2001)

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Why He Matters

The dogged Fitzgerald has been compared to Eliot Ness, the former head of the liquor-busting "Untouchables" in Prohibition-era Chicago.

A former Justice Department attorney and assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Fitzgerald has tried to bring down an array of criminals from the Gambino crime family, to blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, to former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R). But the workaholic prosecutor's most famous investigation was into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, a probe that led all the way to the Bush White House and resulted in the conviction of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby (President George W. Bush later commuted his sentence).

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Assistant U.S. District Attorney, Southern District of New York, Justice Department (1988-2001); Narcotics unit chief, Southern District of New York (1994-1995); Section chief, Organized Crime and Terrorism, Southern District of New York (1995-2001); Associate, Christy and Viener (1993-1995)
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Alma Mater: Amherst Collge, B.A. (math and economics), 1982; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1986
  • Spouse: Jennifer Letzkus
  • Religion: Catholic
  • Chicago Office: Dirksen Federal Building, 219 South Dearborn Street, Fifth Floor Chicago, Illinois
  • DC Office: Bond Federal Building1400 New York Avenue, NW, Ninth FloorWashington D.C.
  • Web site
 

Path to Power

Fitzgerald was born in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His father, an Irish immigrant, worked as a doorman. Fitzgerald would take the same job to help pay his way through college.

The young Fitzgerald attended Our Lady Help of Christians school in Brooklyn before going to high school in Manhattan at Regis High School, a Jesuit school for gifted students. Like all students at Regis, he attended the school on a scholarship.

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The Issues

Although he was appointed to his current position by George W. Bush, Fitzgerald is famous for his political neutrality. He has prosecuted high-profile politicians from both parties, and the New York Times reported that on his 1988 New York voter registration, he chose ''non-partisan'' as his party affiliation, according to state records. "Many former colleagues said they were unsure what Mr. Fitzgerald's political leanings were," the Times reported.

"He takes on Republicans and Democrats," Dick Simpson, a political-science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told People. "He doesn't harbor ambitions to be a politician, so he doesn't care."

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The Network

As a prosecutor, Fitzgerald may have made more enemies than friends. But his tenacity has also won him lots of fans. In 2001, then-Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill.), who is not related to the prosecutor, pushed for Fitzgerald's appointment as U.S. attorney in Illinois. After Sen. Fitzgerald retired in 2004, Barack Obama won his Senate seat.

As an assistant U.S. Attorney in New York's southern district, Fitzgerald worked under Mary Jo White, the first woman to hold that position. She is now a partner in litigation at the law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton in New York.

 

Campaign Contributions

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Fitzgerald has not tipped his hand by contributing to any political campaigns.

 

Additional Resources

  1. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008
  2. Wilson, Joseph C. "What I Didn't Find in Africa," The New York Times, July 6, 2003
  3. Markon, Jerry and Carol D. Leonnig, The Washington Post, "Blagojevich is convicted of 1 of 24 counts; prosecutors vow retrial," August 18, 2010
  4. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008 http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1865756,00.html
  5. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008
  6. Novak, Robert, "Mission to Niger," The Washington Post, July 14, 2003
  7. Smolowe, Jill, "Straight Shooter," People Magazine, November 14, 2005
  8. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008
  9. Safire, William, "The Runaway Prosecutor," The New York Times, September 29, 2004
  10. "Profile: Patrick Fitzgerald: A Modern Day Eliot Ness," The Telegraph, December 11, 2008
  11. Davey, Monica, "Man in the News; 'An Independent Prosecutor'-Patrick J. Fitzgerald," The New York Times, December 31, 2003
  12. "Blagojevich Arrested on Federal Charges," chicagobreakingnews.com, December 9, 2008
  13. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008
  14. "Profile: Patrick Fitzgerald: A Modern Day Eliot Ness," The Telegraph, December 11, 2008
  15. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008 l
  16. Stephey, M.J., "Fast Facts: Patrick Fitzgerald," Time Magazine, December 11, 2008
  17. Davey, Monica, "Man in the News; 'An Independent Prosecutor'-Patrick J. Fitzgerald," The New York Times, December 31, 2003
  18. Shane, Scott, "Fond Ties Have Grown Between Chicago and Its Corruption Fighter," The New York Times, December 10, 2008
  19. "Profile: Patrick Fitzgerald: A Modern Day Eliot Ness," The Telegraph, December 11, 2008
  20. The criminal complaint against Blagojevich and John Harris is found on the Justice Department Web site