CHICAGO (CN) – U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Chicago’s longest-serving federal prosecutor and nemesis of corrupt politicians, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his position effective June 30, 2012.
Fitzgerald, 51, has served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for more than a decade. He has worked for the Justice Department for nearly 24 years since graduating from Harvard Law School.
“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,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “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.”
Fitzgerald’s tenure oversaw two massive public corruption investigations that resulted in the convictions of consecutive Illinois governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. He has also supervised the prosecutions of traditional organized crime bosses, corporate executives and supporters of terrorism.
In 2003, he served as special counsel in the investigation of the identity disclosure of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. This case led to the conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Recently, Fitzgerald supervised the investigation of former CIA officer John Kiriakou for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists, which resulted in a pending indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Attorney General Eric Holder thanked Fitzgerald for his service.
“Throughout his distinguished career as a prosecutor, United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has served the American people and the citizens of Illinois with the utmost integrity and a steadfast commitment to the cause of justice,” Holder said in a statement.
“From his early consequential years in New York City confronting the terrorist threat to his strong leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, Pat has rightly earned a reputation over these last 24 years as a prosecutor’s prosecutor, overseeing significant cases involving public corruption, international terrorism and terrorism financing, corporate fraud, organized crime, and violent crime,” Holder added.
Fitzgerald says he has no future employment plans and will take this summer off before considering career options.