CHICAGO — Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for more than a decade, today announced that he is stepping down as U.S. Attorney effective June 30, 2012. Mr. Fitzgerald notified the White House, Attorney General Eric Holder, and U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk this morning of his decision to step down from the presidentially appointed post that he has held since Sept. 1, 2001, making him the longest-serving U.S. Attorney ever in Chicago.
Mr. Fitzgerald, 51, has no future employment plans and will take time off this summer before considering career options. Including his tenure as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, Mr. Fitzgerald is leaving the Justice Department after nearly 24 years.
“When I was selected for this position in 2001, I said that it was one of the greatest opportunities that one could ever hope for, and I believe that even more now after having the privilege of working alongside hundreds of dedicated prosecutors and agents. I have tried not to get in their way. I extend my deepest appreciation to the attorneys and staff for their determined commitment to public service. This was a great office when I arrived, and I have no doubt that it will continue to be a great office,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
As the top federal law enforcement official in the 18-county Northern District of Illinois, with a population of approximately nine million people, Mr. Fitzgerald manages more than 300 employees, including approximately 170 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Chicago and Rockford.
Mr. Fitzgerald has overseen thousands of criminal prosecutions, as well as taking a hands-on role in many significant cases involving public corruption, international terrorism and terrorism financing, corporate fraud, organized crime, and violent crime (including narcotics and gang prosecutions). These cases have included trials of traditional organized crime bosses who were responsible for notorious murders, corporate executives who cheated public shareholders, former Chicago officials who rigged city hiring, and defendants who supported foreign terrorism.
Mr. Fitzgerald supervised a portion of Operation Safe Road and all of Operation Board Games, the multiple-defendant public corruption investigations that resulted in the trial convictions of consecutive Illinois governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. He has been personally committed to the implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods as part of a concerted effort with the Chicago Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and other state and federal law enforcement agencies to reduce gun violence through both prevention and prosecution.
In the civil arena, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has successfully defended the interests of the United States, its agencies, and officials, and it has collected hundreds of millions of dollars through affirmative enforcement actions, such as suing insurance companies that discriminated against pregnant women and pharmacies that cheated Medicare.
Mr. Fitzgerald served three terms on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and was a member of the Corporate Fraud Task Force.
In December 2003, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed to serve the Justice Department as Special Counsel in the investigation of the disclosure of the identity of a covert employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. The investigation resulted in the October 2005 indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then chief of staff and national security advisor to the Vice President. Mr. Fitzgerald was lead counsel in the trial of United States v. Libby in Federal Court in Washington, D.C., in 2007, which resulted in Mr. Libby’s conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
In 2010, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed by the Justice Department as Special Attorney tosupervise the investigation that resulted in the pending indictment, in the Eastern District of Virginia, of former CIA officer John Kiriakou for allegedly repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.
At the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, Mr. Fitzgerald participated in the prosecution of United States v. Osama Bin Laden, et al., involving the August 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the trial of United States v. Omar Abdel Rahman, et al., involving the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb other New York landmarks.
Last year, Mr. Fitzgerald received the Chicago Bar Association’s Justice John Paul Stevens Award, and he was named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2010. He has received numerous other awards and honors, including Harvard Law School’s Coleman, Cox,Richardson Award for Distinguished Public Service in 2007, The National Law Journal’s Lawyer of the Year in 2007, the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002, the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service in 1996, and the Stimson Medal from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 1997.
Mr. Fitzgerald, 51, a native of Brooklyn, graduated from Amherst College, Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics in 1982, and from Harvard Law School in 1985. He is married with two young children.