Patrick Fitzgerald

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Patrick Fitzgerald
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
October 21, 2001 – June 30, 2012
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded byScott Lassar
Succeeded byZachary T. Fardon
Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice
In office
December 30, 2003 – March 6, 2007
Appointed byJames Comey
Preceded byPosition not in use
Succeeded byPosition not in use
Personal details
Born (1960-12-22) December 22, 1960 (age 63)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
SpouseJennifer Letzkus
EducationAmherst College (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Patrick J. Fitzgerald (born December 22, 1960) is an American lawyer and partner at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom since October 2012.[1]

For more than a decade, until June 30, 2012, Fitzgerald was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.[2] Prior to his appointment, he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1988 to 2001,[3] and as Chief of the Organized Crime-Terrorism Unit since December 1995, where he participated in the prosecutions of Osama bin Laden, Abdel Rahman, and Ramzi Yousef.

As special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel, Fitzgerald was the federal prosecutor in charge of the investigation of the Valerie Plame Affair, which led to the prosecution and conviction in 2007 of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice.[4][5]

As a federal prosecutor, he led a number of high-profile investigations, including those which led to convictions of Illinois Governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, media mogul Conrad Black, several aides to Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley in the Hired Truck Program, and Chicago police detective and torturer Jon Burge.


Fitzgerald was born into a Roman Catholic family of Irish descent in Brooklyn. His father (also named Patrick Fitzgerald) worked as a doorman in Manhattan and a security guard at the 1964 New York World's Fair in Flushing, Queens.[6] Fitzgerald attended Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school, before going on to Regis High School. He received degrees in economics and mathematics from Amherst College, Phi Beta Kappa, before receiving his JD from Harvard Law School in 1985.[7] He played rugby at Amherst[8] and at Harvard he was a member of the Harvard Business School Rugby Club.

Fitzgerald married Jennifer Letzkus in June 2008.[9][10]


New York[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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. The Senator urged the selection because Patrick Fitzgerald is not from Chicago; Patrick said that he had visited Chicago only one day, for a wedding in 1982, before his selection.[14]

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, then 67 years old, 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 and five months.[15]

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."[16]

Fitzgerald's early official portrait

On July 18, 2005, his 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.[17]

In March 2006, former Chicago City Clerk James Laski pleaded guilty to pocketing nearly $50,000 in bribes for steering city business to two trucking companies. Laski was the highest-ranking Chicago official and Daley administration employee brought down by Fitzgerald's office in conjunction with the Hired Truck Program scandal. Beginning in April 2007, Fitzgerald oversaw Operation Crooked Code, the investigation and prosecution of over two dozen defendants for bribery and related charges in Chicago's Department of Buildings and Zoning.[18]

On December 9, 2008, federal agents arrested Illinois Governor Rod 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."[19]

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.[citation needed] On May 23, 2012, Fitzgerald held a press conference informing the public that he was stepping down from his position and retiring as the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Federal Court effective June 30, 2012.[2] Long-time prosecutor Gary S. Shapiro was named US Attorney until a replacement was selected.[20]

In 2013, Fitzgerald was appointed by Governor Patrick Quinn (D-IL) to the Board of Trustees for the University of Illinois.[21]

Private practice[edit]

Fitzgerald is now a partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in the firm's Chicago office.[22]

Notable cases[edit]

Fitzgerald announces drug trafficking charges at the Department of Justice in 2009.

Plame investigation[edit]

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.[4][5] Fitzgerald was well-known to Comey and was in fact already godfather to one of Comey's children.

On December 30, 2003, three months after the start of the Plame investigation, Fitzgerald was appointed Special Counsel. 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."[23]

On October 28, 2005, Fitzgerald brought an indictment for five 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. 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," to which 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."[24]

Robert Novak's testimony in Libby's perjury trial made it known that the two senior administration sources he cited in his article were Richard Armitage and Karl Rove.[25] A month later Armitage claimed Fitzgerald had instructed him not to go public with this information.[26] Journalist Michael Isikoff received confirmation from Rove's lawyer and from lobbyist Richard F. Hohlt that Rove was also faxed an advance copy of the article several days before it was published.[27]

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 would "return to their day jobs". Libby was sentenced to a $250,000 fine, 2 years of probation and a 2½ 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 but did not commute the fine.[28]

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."[29]

In March 2007, Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who "had not distinguished themselves" as opposed to "strong U.S. Attorneys who exhibited loyalty to the administration" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005.[30] 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 Fitzgerald's previous Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002.[31] Two other prosecutors so ranked were dismissed. On July 2, 2007, President Bush provided a statement[32] on his decision to commute 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.

Libby was eventually pardoned by President Donald Trump on April 13, 2018.[33]

Conrad Black and Hollinger[edit]

On November 17, 2005, Fitzgerald brought criminal fraud charges against former Canadian media mogul Conrad Black, as well as against three other Hollinger executives. The trial of Black began at the federal court in Chicago in March 2007. Black was convicted on July 13, 2007 and was later sentenced to serve 78 months in federal prison, pay Hollinger $6.1 million and a fine of $125,000.[34]

RISCISO Indictments[edit]

On February 1, 2006, the U.S. Attorney's Office under Fitzgerald announced that it was indicting nineteen members of Risciso, a software and movie piracy ring, in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The prosecution was the result of an undercover investigation, Operation Jolly Roger, that was part of Operation Site Down—an initiative by the FBI and law enforcement agents from ten other countries to disrupt and dismantle many of the leading warez groups that distribute and trade in copyrighted software, movies, music, and games on the Internet.[35][36]

Blagojevich corruption arrest[edit]

On December 9, 2008, Fitzgerald confirmed in a press conference in Chicago that Illinois 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."[37] 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.[38] Fitzgerald said at the news conference that, "I laid [sic] awake at night", worrying about the possible firing of Tribune editors.[39]

Larry Nassar investigation[edit]

In 2014, Fitzgerald was hired by Michigan State University to conduct an internal investigation to discover whether and when university officials knew about sexual assault allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar. Fitzgerald reported to university officials that no MSU official "believed" that Nassar had committed sexual assault, but did not provide any written report detailing the evidence for this claim.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Joins Skadden's Chicago Office". CBS News. Chicago. 22 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stepping down June 30". Chicago Tribune. 23 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Patrick Fitzgerald Partner, Litigation". Skadden. Chicago. 22 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b Savage, Charlie (31 December 2003). "Ashcroft Steps Aside in Probe Into CIA Leak". Boston Globe. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  5. ^ a b "Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?". 6 January 2004. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  6. ^ "Patrick Fitzgerald: The Right Thing". The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg.
  7. ^ Slevin, Peter (2 February 2005). "The Prosecutor Never Rests". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  8. ^ Stephey, M.J. (11 December 2008). "Patrick Fitzgerald". Time. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008.
  9. ^ US Attorney Fitzgerald marries teacher Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine ABC Local, June 17, 2008
  10. ^ Patrick Fitzgerald profile,, December 11, 2008.
  11. ^ Wilson, Jamie (29 October 2005). "Workaholic who earned his spurs taking down the mob". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  12. ^ Harris, Paul (12 February 2006). "Saint Patrick's Day". The Observer. London. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  13. ^ Fitzgerald, Patrick (21 October 2003). "Testimony of the Honorable Patrick Fitzgerald before the Senate Judiciary Committee". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Archived from the original on 31 August 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan Heading to Prison; NPR; November 6, 2007
  16. ^ Davey, Monica; Ruethling, Gretchen (18 April 2006). "Former Illinois Governor is Convicted in Graft Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  17. ^ Eisenberg, Daniel (1 August 2005). "Ghosts in the Machine". Time. Time Inc. Archived from the original on 6 January 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
  18. ^ Coen, Jeff; Mihalopoulos, Dan (22 May 2008). "Feds: City building inspectors bribed". Chicago Tribune.
  19. ^ Davey, Monica; Jack Healy (9 December 2008). "Illinois Governor Charged in Scheme to Sell Obama's Seat". New York Times.
  20. ^ "Acting attorney named for Chicago after Fitzgerald leaves". Chicago Tribune. 25 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Patrick J. Fitzgerald, The University of Illinois Board of Trustees". Archived from the original on 10 July 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Former U.S. Attorney Takes Job at Chicago Law Firm". NBC News. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  23. ^ Government Accountability Office (30 September 2004). "B-302582, Special Counsel and Permanent Indefinite Appropriation". Government Accountability Office. Retrieved 16 September 2006. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ FDCH e-Media (28 October 2005). "Transcript of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's Press Conference". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  25. ^ "Columnist testifies Rove confirmed Plame was CIA". 12 February 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  26. ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (8 September 2006). "Washington Post, Armitage Says He Was Source of CIA Leak". Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  27. ^ A Man of Mystery; MSNBC - Newsweek reproduction; Michael Isikoff; February 26, 2007
  28. ^ Scott Shane and Neil A. Lewis (3 July 2007). "Bush Commutes Libby Sentence, Saying 30 Months 'Is Excessive'". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Plame to testify to Congress on leak; Reuters; Jim Young; March 9, 2007
  30. ^ Eggen, Dan; Solomon, John (20 March 2007). "Fitzgerald Ranked During Leak Case". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  31. ^ Solomon, John (20 March 2007). "Gonzales aide rated Fitzgerald mediocre". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
  32. ^ "Statement by the President on Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby". 2 July 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  33. ^ Peter Baker (13 April 2018). "Trump Pardons Scooter Libby in a Case That Mirrors His Own". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  34. ^ BBC News Business: "Conrad Black convicted of fraud" July 13, 2007.
  35. ^ Associated Press (1 February 2006). "19 Indicted in Software Piracy Plot". CBS News. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  36. ^ "19 Indicted in $6.5 million "RISCISO" Software Piracy Conspiracy" (PDF) (Press release). United States Department of Justice. 1 September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  37. ^ "Ill. governor arrested in corruption scandal". Chicago. Associated Press. 9 December 2008. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
  38. ^ "Fitzgerald: 'New low' in Illinois politics". Breaking News. Chicago: Tribune Company. 9 December 2008. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008.
  39. ^ "Transcript – Justice Department Briefing on Blagojevich Investigation". The New York Times. 9 December 2008.
  40. ^ Justin Hinkley, MSU lawyer tells Bill Schuette officials didn't know about Nassar until 2016, Detroit Free Press, December 8, 2017; Michael Campbell, Dr. Larry Nassar: A history of preying on people, Lansing State Journal and IndyStar timeline, Archived 2018-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Fitzgerald Named "Fed of The Year" by

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Scott Lassar
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
Succeeded by
Zachary Fardon