9-27-07 U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald speaks with the media about the "family secrets" mob trial at the Dirksen Federal Building on Thursday evening. Photo by Chris Sweda/Sun-Times
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:20AM
He was Chicago’s modern day Eliot Ness; a mob fighter, terrorist trapper and a bagger of big-game politicians.
It’s no secret U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who just announced he is leaving office, has many enemies who want to give him a one-way ticket out of town.
But don’t count on him leaving soon.
Fitzgerald’s abrupt announcement Wednesday that he was pulling the plug on a decade-long tenure sent reporters scurrying to figure out his next career move and . . . replacement.
Sneed hears U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is leaning toward appointing a woman; Cook County
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is one candidate, and the appointment could become a short career if Mitt Romney gets elected president.
Friends claim Fitzgerald, who once said, ‘The only downside of whatever comes next is that some morning I’ll wake up and not be a federal prosecutor,” has no plans to leave town and move back to the state which earned him a legendary anti-terrorist reputation while working for New York U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani.
L.A. attorney Tony Bouza, an Amherst college buddy, tells Sneed: “He’s got a family and kids — suddenly you discover you need to buy a house and put the kids through school — and you can make more in a week or a month than you can make in a year in what he’s doing. It could be as much as 20 times the amount he’s making.
“But I’ll tell you, you’re not going to catch him in a $2,000 suit.
“He always said, ‘no, no, no, no, no, no, I have no political ambitions. He’s such a smart talented guy. I can’t imagine him going into private practice and defending white collar criminals. I think it would be unlikely for him to cross the aisle and defend a lot of these guys he’s spent years putting away.”
Close friends also speculate Fitzgerald will probably become legal counsel for a large corporation like his close friend James Comey, who was assistant attorney general under John Ashcroft.
He was also described by friends as the “Total package. Altar boy. Choir boy. Boy Scout. A man with a great life story, whose father was a doorman who sent him to top-flight schools. Amherst. Harvard.”
“It wasn’t his plan to be a U.S. attorney for 20 years,” a friend told Sneed. “It was just time to go.”
“Pat was considering the FBI appointment, but when that wasn’t going to happen and FBI Director Robert Mueller got a two-year extension on his contract . . . it was time to move on.
“If we had indicted Osama bin Laden instead of killing him, I’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone but Pat Fitzgerald being named the leading prosecutor,” said a respected jurist.
“He loves Chicago and his wife, Jennifer, who has family in Southern Illinois [Decatur],” said a close friend.
“Pat’s a devoted husband and doting dad to sons, Connor and Declan, who was born not long ago. He didn’t get married until he was 46 and they have a young family. He’d have no trouble being hired for a huge salary by a top-notch law firm — if that’s what he decides to do.”
“Jennifer is a Chicago Public Schools teacher who is on maternity leave. Pat doesn’t want to leave Chicago. Not now. Chicago is his home. Both his parents are dead, and he loves having family close.”
“He’s just a regular guy with a great sense of humor who plays rugby, hikes and prefers an evening with family and friends rather than social networking.
“But right now he just wants to enjoy the summer with his family and plans to attend his 30-year reunion at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Fitzgerald has now given notice he will be leaving on June 30.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a re-entry at some point back into government,” said another pal.
As they say, stay tuned.
The flip side . . .
It’s always a case of praise and raze when it comes to notables in the news . . . and Fitzgerlad has his detractors.
Sneed called Robert Blagojevich, brother of convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, at his home in Nashville, who heard about Fitzgerald’s resignation while preparing to leave to come to Chicago to speak to a bar association group.
◆ His reaction: (A deep laugh) “It was long overdue. He was a public servant who stayed way too long in his position. He was a man with unchecked power, allowed, without any accountability, to overreach his prosecution — specifically of me — to achieve his agenda. It’s a good day for civil liberties.”
Sneedlings . . .
Thursday’s birthdays: Bob Dylan, 71; Priscilla Presley, 67; Jane Byrne, 78, and Alisa Parenti, ageless.