By Natasha Korecki
Federal Courts Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he sometimes wants to smack people "upside the head" who tell him after he's convicted someone that they knew all along the person was a crook.
"Seriously, speak up," Fitzgerald said in a talk to the City Club of Chicago Monday.
"The one thing I find frustrating is that people view corruption as a law enforcement problem. If I had a dollar for everyone who has come up to me after we've convicted someone and said: 'yes, we knew he or she was doing that all the time but we wondered when someone was going to get around to doing something about it. And I bite my lip, but I wanted to smack them upside the head."
The person who needs to do something about corruption, he said: "was you."
"It is my view that sometimes we say that's the way it is in Illinois or that's the way it is in Chicago. If you're finding yourself saying that, what you're really saying is: "that's the way I will allow it to be," Fitzgerald said.
"You either speak up and do something about it or you're part of the problem. That's the only way to look at it."
Fitzgerald would not hint at how much time prosecutors will ask Judge James Zagel to sentence former Gov. Rod Blagojevich at his upcoming sentencing.
Fitzgerald, who recently marked 10 years on the job in Chicago, talked to the club about his time in New York as a terrorism prosecutor and the changes he's seen in information sharing among law enforcement agencies. That helped with the terrorism case involving David Headley, who has pleaded guilty to aiding a terror attack in Mumbai, India, that claimed more than 160 lives. Fitzgerald said: "law enforcement, prosecutors and the FBI were married at the hip." Headley was a key witness this summer in a trial that saw the conviction of Chicago Tahawwur Rana.
Asked if he planned to leave Chicago anytime soon, he said simply:
"I love my job."
The crowd laughed, as did the U.S. attorney who saw the convictions of two former governors and of a massive mob case during his tenure, when one of the questioners asked Fitzgerald to round off to the nearest 20, the number of targets in the packed room.
Fitzgerald reiterated a plea he's made in the past to corporations to hire ex-felons to help give them an option other than returning to drugs or gangs and keep down recidivism.
After the event, a member of the media asked: Who should hire George Ryan?
"I'm not gonna go there," Fitzgerald said.