"He's just the doorman." With those words residents of an upscale co-op in Manhattan dismissed the young Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent his summers working as a doorman to help pay for college. This Catholic schoolboy turned tough prosecutor on some of the past decade's most high profile cases is not now so easily dismissed. Fitzgerald, who holds the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois, was once again in the spotlight with the recent of arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was charged with selling the Senate seat left vacant by President Elect Barak Obama.
Fitzgerald has a reputation as a workaholic and uncorruptible who fights mob bosses, terrorists, drug lords, and double-dealing public servants.
Friend Richard Phelan, a Chicago lawyer, says of Fitzgerald "If he were not a prosecutor, he'd be a priest. He's totally and completely dedicated." (Time, Oct. 30, 2005).
His parents, who were born on opposite sides of County Clare, Ireland, met in the United States and raised their son in the Midwood-Flatbush area of Brooklyn. After attending Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school and Regis Jesuit High School, he was a Phi Beta Kappa math and economics student at Amherst College and received his law degree form Harvard Law School in 1985.
"I'm very indebted to my parents. They were very hardworking, straight, decent people,” Fitzgerald said in a 2005 Washington Post article by Peter Slevin. “The values we grew up with were straight-ahead. We didn't grow up in a household where people were anything but direct. I'm hoping that if you're a straight shooter in the world, that's not that remarkable."
This onetime doorman has made a career of showing the prison door to an array of criminals. In addition to being the special prosecutor investigating the leak of the name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, Fitzgerald convicted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the defendants in the bombings of U.S. embassies; the staff of the 9/11 commission called him one of the world's best terrorism prosecutors. He also extracted a guilty plea from Mafia boss John Gambino and successfully prosecuted former Illinois governor George Ryan and associates of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on influence-peddling and corruption charges.
View Fitzgerald’s press conference announcing the arrest of and criminal complaint against Blagojevich: