U.S. Attorneys’ Office

In the January 2009 Police Bulletin, you’ll find articles about prosecutors and Patrick Fitzgerald. Below is additional information from the website of the Department of Justice, www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln.

United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois

Trials of a corrupt former governor of Illinois, Chicago officials who rigged city hiring, individuals who lied about their support of foreign terrorism, corporate executives who cheated public shareholders and traditional organized crime bosses who were responsible for notorious murders are among the recent, successful prosecutions that distinguish the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. While earning a reputation built over decades for battling organized crime and aggressively prosecuting public corruption, the federal prosecutor’s office in Chicago continues to uphold that tradition, even as its top priorities now also include anti-terrorism, violent crime associated with narcotics and street gangs, health care fraud and cybercrime. In the civil arena, the USAO has collected hundreds of millions of dollars against insurance companies that discriminate against pregnant women and pharmacies that cheat Medicare. And extensive efforts are dedicated to providing assistance and restitution to victims of crime.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney, directs the office, which has more than 300 employees, including approximately 160 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and two dozen paralegals, along with other administrative and support staff. The Northern District of Illinois covers 18 counties across the northern tier of Illinois, with a population of approximately nine million people. The district has a branch office in Rockford staffed by seven attorneys. Both attorneys and staff are committed to a longstanding tradition of public service and community involvement throughout northern Illinois. Each year, attorneys and staff donate hundreds of toys and articles of clothing to needy children, provide programs for children in public schools, and mentor law students.

In the Criminal Division, new Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) are assigned to the General Crimes Section where they receive both formal and “hands-on” training in federal criminal law and procedure, grand jury and trial practice, and participate in conducting investigations with the various federal law enforcement agencies. News AUSAs are quickly assigned responsibilities in investigations and trials under the supervision of more senior prosecutors, exposing them to the entire spectrum of federal offenses, including tax fraud, bank robbery and embezzlement, and illegal sale and possession of narcotics and firearms. After becoming proficient in the investigation and trial of less complex matters, AUSAs are assigned to the other sections, such as the Narcotics and Gangs Section, which focuses on the investigation and prosecution of major narcotics distribution organizations, in particular street gangs and drug importation and transportation cartels. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an office-wide program aimed at deterring gun crime.

Other “senior” sections of the Criminal Division are the Financial Crimes and Special Prosecutions Section, which handles more complex matters, including securities and commodities fraud and bankruptcy and mortgage fraud, and the Public Corruption and Organized Crime Section, which continues to dismantle the pillars of crime on which the office’s reputation was built. “Organized crime” includes La Cosa Nostra (known in Chicago as the “Outfit”), as well as other emerging groups, such as Eastern European and Asian criminal enterprises. Prosecutors in these sections often use such federal law enforcement tools as court-approved electronic monitoring and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which allows the prosecution of organizations for crimes occurring over many years.

Several AUSAs specialize in money laundering and assisting attorneys throughout the office in seizing and forfeiting defendants’ assets. They attempt to “take the profit out of crime” by tracing the proceeds of drug traffickers and other criminals and obtaining their profits as restitution for victims or for the Government. Several other AUSAs specialize in appeals and guide prosecutors throughout the office in writing briefs and preparing for oral argument.

About 30 Assistant U.S. Attorneys assigned to the Civil Division handle a wide array of trials and appeals on behalf of the federal government and its agencies, including civil rights, environmental, food and drug, and civil fraud cases. The division also defends federal officials against personal injury and medical malpractice claims, and employment discrimination lawsuits, in addition to defending class actions and administrative rulings relating to government policies and programs. Financial Litigation Section attorneys trace assets to collect restitution for victims of crime and debts owed to federal agencies and represent the Government in bankruptcy matters and defensive foreclosures.

Attorneys in the office work closely with agents of all of the federal investigative agencies (FBI, DEA, IRS, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the offices of inspector general of the various federal agencies and departments). The office also encourages extensive cooperation between state, local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The office typically receives hundreds of employment applications annually from lawyers, making positions extremely competitive. Attorney applicants are evaluated on legal experience, law school performance, writing and oral communication skills and dedication to public service, among other factors. Successful attorney applicants are expected to commit themselves to serving a minimum of four years in the office.

The office also has an extensive intern program designed to expose law students to all aspects of federal criminal and civil practice.

U.S. Attorney Biography, Patrick J. Fitzgerald

Patrick J. Fitzgerald began serving as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on September 1, 2001. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination by unanimous consent and President Bush signed his commission on October 29, 2001. Fitzgerald serves as the district’s top federal law enforcement official.

Fitzgerald served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee from 2001-2005 and was Chair of the sub-committee on terrorism. He is also a member of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force. In December 2003, he was named Special Counsel to investigate the alleged disclosure of the identity of a purported employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

During the last four years, Fitzgerald has provided leadership and played a personal role in many significant investigations involving terrorism financing, public corruption, corporate fraud, and violent crime, including narcotics and gang prosecutions.

In Chicago, Fitzgerald has supervised the continuing public corruption investigation known as Operation Safe Road, which began in 1998, and which resulted in the convictions of approximately 73 defendants, including more than 30 public employees and officials. Since January 2004, he has overseen an investigation of the City of Chicago’s Hired Truck Program in which three dozen defendants have been charged, including approximately 20 current or former city employees, and two dozen defendants have been convicted. Fitzgerald has also committed himself personally to the implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods as part of a concerted effort with the Chicago Police Department and other state and federal law enforcement agencies to reduce gun violence.

Fitzgerald also served as trial counsel in United States v. Arnaout, in which the executive director of Benevolence International Foundation, Inc., a charitable organization based in south suburban Chicago, was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Arnaout pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy for fraudulently obtaining charitable donations to provide financial assistance to persons engaged in violent activities overseas, including to fighters in Chechnya and Bosnia, instead of using donations strictly for peaceful, humanitarian purposes.

Prior to coming to Chicago, Fitzgerald served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for 13 years. He served as Chief of the Organized Crime-Terrorism Unit, in addition to holding other supervisory positions during his tenure in that office.

In New York, Fitzgerald participated in the prosecution of United States v. Usama Bin Laden, et al., in which 23 defendants were charged with various offenses, including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals overseas and the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Four defendants went on trial in January 2001 in New York and four months later a jury returned guilty verdicts against all four. The defendants were sentenced to life in prison.

Fitzgerald also participated in the trial of United States v. Omar Abdel Rahman, et al., a nine-month trial in 1995 of 12 defendants who participated in a seditious conspiracy that involved the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and a plot to bomb the United Nations, the FBI building in New York, and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, as well as a conspiracy to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. He also supervised the case of United States v. Ramzi Yousef, et al., the 1996 prosecution of three defendants who participated in a conspiracy in the Philippines in late 1994 and early 1995 to detonate bombs simultaneously on 12 American airliners. In 1993, Mr. Fitzgerald participated in the six-month trial of United States v. John Gambino, et al., the prosecution of a Gambino crime family capo and his crew for narcotics trafficking, murder, racketeering, jury tampering and other charges.

Among Fitzgerald’s awards and honors are the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service in 1996, the Stimson Medal from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 1997 and the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002.

Fitzgerald is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. He joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan in 1988 after three years as a litigation associate at the New York law firm, Christy & Viener. He 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.

Below is an article from British Broadcasting Corp. The BBC has given a lot of coverage to U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald, who in 2005 indicted media tycoon Conrad Black, British Lord and Hollinger International executive, for racketing. This story was updated on 16 March, 2007.

Profile: US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is no stranger to high profile corruption cases.

He is a 46-year-old, no-nonsense Brookylinite with a rising reputation as a legal star.

The Conrad Black trial, in which he will be supervising a team of four assistant attorneys, is his second major case this month.

It follows his successful prosecution in early March of former key White House official, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was found guilty of lying to the FBI and a grand jury over revelations about the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

“We cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system,” Mr Fitzgerald said after the conviction.

“If someone knowingly tells a lie under oath during any investigation, it is every prosecutor’s duty to respond by investigating and proving that if you can.”

Track record

Born into a working-class Irish American-Catholic family, Mr Fitzgerald once held jobs as a school janitor and doorman.

He received degrees in economics and mathematics from Amherst College before attending Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1985.

As Assistant 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.

Mr Fitzgerald was also the prosecutor in the case against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

While in New York, he was responsible for drafting an indictment against al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before the attacks of 11 September 2001.

He told the Washington Post that if the latter ever stood trial, he would like the job of prosecuting him.

“If you’re a prosecutor, you’d be insane if you didn’t want to go do that,” he said. “I’d be lying if I told you I wouldn’t be interested.”

In 2001, Mr Fitzgerald moved to Chicago where he became US Attorney for Northern Illinois and started an investigation of the political appointees of the Republican Governor George Ryan, who was later found guilty of corruption and jailed for six and a half years.

He also indicted a number of top aides to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat, on charges of fraud, alleging numerous instances of illegality in hiring practices.

Mr Fitzgerald’s reputation in the fight against public corruption has attracted growing plaudits, as well as public scrutiny.

One friend reportedly described him as “Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree”, a reference to the tough crime fighter in The Untouchables TV series.

“He comes off as sincere because he is,” New York lawyer Joshua Dratel said. “He very much believes in what he is doing.”

Another lawyer, David Baugh, described Mr Fitzgerald as a “bit of a moralist, an up by-his-bootstraps Catholic boy with a strong sense of right and wrong”.

But Mary Jo White, the former US attorney who was his boss in New York, said the prosecutor’s strength lies in how he “exercises his power with a real recognition of how awesome it is”.

Below is a Dec. 10, 2008 article by Scott Shane in the New York Times, which has covered Fitzgerald extensively.

Fond Ties Have Grown Between Chicago
and Its Corruption Fighter

WASHINGTON — In New York, he earned his prosecutorial spurs going after terrorists and mobsters. In Washington, he brought down the powerful top aide to the vice president.

And as the United States attorney in Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald on Tuesday unveiled the indictment of his second Illinois governor in five years, the latest in a streak of prosecutions that have made him a folk hero in a state beleaguered by official crime.

“He’s a relentless investigator,” said Joel R. Levin, a Chicago lawyer who worked for Mr. Fitzgerald as a federal prosecutor until earlier this year. “He leaves no stone unturned.”

Still boyish at 47, Mr. Fitzgerald became a familiar face nationally last year when he won the conviction of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, for perjury in the exposing of a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer.

But in Chicago, Mr. Fitzgerald has become a prominent figure as he has taken on the dark, cynical world of local government, where abuse of power appears to have become a way of life. It has become a cliché to compare him to Eliot Ness, the Chicago Prohibition agent whom television and movies made into a symbol of incorruptible law enforcement.

At his Chicago news conference — a frequent enough occurrence that he addressed reporters by their first names — he spoke with a kind of appalled relish about the alleged crimes of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. He quoted from wiretapped conversations and rattled off details of shakedown attempts.

“The conduct,” Mr. Fitzgerald declared, “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”

He portrayed Mr. Blagojevich as seeking to sell a Senate seat “like a sports agent.” He said that in the last few years even the spectacle of imprisoned politicians had not deterred the state’s “pay-to-play” culture of bribery.

“We’re not going to end corruption in Illinois by arrests and indictments alone,” he said. “What’s going to make the difference is when people who are approached to pay-to-play first say no, and second report it.”

The son of Irish immigrants to Brooklyn, Mr. Fitzgerald was raised in New York City and made his reputation there prosecuting Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric who plotted to bomb local landmarks; trying four men for the East African embassy bombings; and helping to build a criminal case against Osama bin Laden.

In 2001, when Mr. Fitzgerald moved to Chicago to become United States attorney, friends thought he might pine for home. In fact, he has found the Second City has its charms.

Long a workaholic bachelor who slept in the office during big mob and terrorism trials in New York, Mr. Fitzgerald found love, marrying Jennifer Letzkus, a local Head Start teacher who is a former investment banker, earlier this year. And he has discovered that for a federal prosecutor, the northern district of Illinois has many targets.

Shortly after he took the Chicago job, he began an investigation of Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, who was convicted in 2006 of steering state contracts to cronies in return for bribes and sentenced to six years in prison. The same year his office pursued corruption charges against associates of Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, a Democrat like Mr. Blagojevich, in a program to rent trucks for city jobs.

Chosen by an old friend, James B. Comey, deputy attorney general at the time, he pursued the C.I.A. leak investigation with a ferocity that angered some in the Bush administration. A highlight of Mr. Libby’s trial was a videotape of Mr. Fitzgerald’s patient, deft and devastating questioning of him before a grand jury.

“He doesn’t shy away from indictments because of political party, holiday season or anything else,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

When he was appointed, “there was a low-grade murmur that there are good people here, why get a New Yorker,” Ms. Canary added. “You didn’t hear that once he got started.”

“People see him as the only ally we have against political corruption,” she said. “Every time there’s a hint that he might be replaced there’s an outcry.”

Partly because of the long history of corruption cases in Chicago, United States attorneys there have often been more prominent than in most cities. Some have used the post as a step to the governor’s mansion or other political perches.

But friends say that Mr. Fitzgerald, who played rugby at Amherst College and in 2005 was named by no less an authority than People magazine to its “sexiest men alive” list, is a natural for pursuing criminals.

J. Gilmore Childers, who prosecuted terrorism cases with Mr. Fitzgerald in New York, said his old friend had a sort of righteous indignation at wrongdoing.

“He grew up in a working-class household with a strong sense of morality,” Mr. Childers said. “He has a sort of ‘Oh, gosh’ quality, an aspect that’s almost corny, that sees things as black or white.”

But Mr. Childers said Mr. Fitzgerald’s zeal disguised a devilish sense of humor. “As tough as he is as a prosecutor, he’s just as devious in pulling pranks on his friends,” Mr. Childers said. Once, he recalled, Mr. Fitzgerald wrote up a fake appellate ruling and presented it to a fellow prosecutor hosting him for dinner, with condolences that they had lost their appeal. (In fact, they won.)

Mr. Fitzgerald has said nothing about his future as Barack Obama prepares to assume the presidency, often an occasion for turnover among United States attorneys. But Senator Richard J. Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois and a Democrat, has publicly called on Mr. Obama to keep Mr. Fitzgerald on, and the betting is that he will remain in the job.

Even if he departs soon, he has left his mark, said Tim Samuelson, the City of Chicago’s official cultural historian.

“When people tell the story of Illinois politics,” Mr. Samuelson said, “Patrick Fitzgerald will unquestionably have a major role. People talk about him as having a lot of guts in a tough job, and it’s a job he seems to like.”

Among others who have written about Patrick Fitzgerald are: Columnists, Mark Brown, and Washington Bureau Chief, Lynn Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times; John Kass, Chicago Tribune; Kate Zernike, “In Illinois, a Virtual Expectation of Corruption,” New York Times, Dec. 14, 2008; as well as the Daily Herald, Courier-News (Elgin), Washington Post, Crain’s, Newsweek, Esquire and WTTW Channel 11 Online News Hour interviews with and about Patrick Fitzgerald by Elizabeth Brackett, Aug. 8, 2008.