Patrick Fitzgerald to leave post as top prosecutor

May 23, 2012

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(AP/file)

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to address the media this morning about his decision that he'll step down at the end of June. He announced Wednesday that he plans to leave the position at the end of June.

Fitzgerald has been the top federal prosecutor in Chicago since President George W. Bush appointed him to the post in September of 2001.  Under his leadership the office one convictions against mobsters, newspaper owner Conrad Black, numerous Chicago aldermen and city employees, terrorists, former Police Commander Jon Burge and, of course, former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

Jeff Cramer is a former prosecutor who now heads up the Chicago office of Kroll, an investigative and risk consulting company.  He says prosecutors had great confidence in Fitzgerald and the way he ran the office noting that he went after both Republicans and Democrats. “I don't think there's any assistant who's ever worked under Pat that ever questioned whether or not his decisions were based upon politics because they never were.  You knew that when Pat made a decision it was based upon the law and what his office dictated,” says Cramer.

Cramer says Fitzgerald has been a leader nationally in law enforcement for 20 years pointing out that Fitzgerald indicted Osama bin Laden for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania long before anyone had heard that name.

David Weisman, now a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman, spent 10 years as a prosecutor working under Fitzgerald.  He says Fitzgerald is a skilled trial lawyer, something that can’t be said for every U.S. Attorney. “When you're talking about trial tactics or how to handle an investigatory decision, he's very engaged in that process and he wants to hear other people's ideas,” says Weisman.

Fitzgerald is 51 and has 2 small children.  He says he doesn’t know what his next job will be but he plans to take the summer off.

Here’s a list of some of his key cases.

FORMER ILLINOIS GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH

     In June 2011, Blagojevich was found guilty on 18 counts,

including charges that he tried to sell or trade President Barack

Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. Fitzgerald brushed off heavy

criticism after jurors deadlocked on all but one relatively minor

charge during Blagojevich's first corruption trial in Chicago,

choosing to hold a second trial and winning a 14-year prison

sentence for the ex-governor.

      ---

      FORMER ILLINOIS GOV. GEORGE RYAN

      Blagojevich's predecessor as governor is serving the tail end of

a 6 1/2-year sentence in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. At

his six-month trial in 2006, Ryan was convicted of racketeering,

conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements to the FBI when

he was secretary of state and later governor from 1999 to 2003.

      ---

      I. LEWIS "SCOOTER" LIBBY

      Former Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide was convicted in

March 2007 of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI during the

investigation into who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie

Plame. Former President George W. Bush commuted Libby's 30-month

prison sentence.

      ---

      OMAR ABDEL-RAHMAN

      Also known as the "Blind Sheikh," the Egyptian-born

Abdel-Rahman was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing

and of plotting to blow up the Holland Tunnel and other key sites

around New York City. He was sentenced to life in prison.

      ---

      BOMBINGS OF US EMBASSIES IN KENYA, TANZANIA

      Fitzgerald brought charges that Osama bin Laden and 22 of his

followers conspired to murder Americans and were responsible for

the August 1998 bombing of the two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Four defendants went to trial and are serving life in prison.

      ---

      CONRAD BLACK

      The former media mogul, whose empire once included the Chicago

Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London and The Jerusalem Post,

was convicted in 2007 of defrauding investors. He served three

years in prison.

      ---

      JON BURGE

      The former Chicago police lieutenant was convicted in 2010 of

lying about the torture of suspects in police custody. Dozens of

people - almost all of them black men - claimed for decades that

Burge and his officers tortured them into confessing to crimes

ranging from armed robbery to murder. Burge was sentenced to 4 1/2

years behind bars.

      ---

      TONY REZKO

      The former top fundraiser for Blagojevich was convicted in 2008

of fraud, money laundering and plotting to squeeze more than $7

million from companies seeking to do state business during

Blagojevich's tenure. A federal judge sentenced Rezko to 10 1/2

years in prison, minus time served.