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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Former Aide To Patrick Fitzgerald Says Justice Dept. Shafts Libby Prosecutor

CHICAGO (TDB) -- Fresh out of government service and starting a new job in private practice, an ex-assistant federal prosecutor in Chicago is complaining that Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department has it in for his former boss, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Patrick Collins, who handled a major political corruption probe into Illinois state government, says Fitzpatrick should be considered the "gold standard" of government lawyers.

Collins left the U.S. Attorney's Office Wednesday afternoon. He was quickly on TV saying he has his free speech rights back after resigning for a big bucks career in private practice, and called the Justice Department unjust for rating Fitzpatrick as an undistinguished or mediocre prosecutor. He's implying that Gonzales's minions targeted Fitzpatrick for going after White House powerbrokers like Karl Rove, who was questioned in front of a federal grand jury but not indicted.

Gonzales was in Chicago Tuesday and did a three-minute or so news conference while seated next to Fitzgerald, who won convictions of former Dick Cheney chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying under oath. Actually, it was a 2 1/2 minute news conference. Fitzgerald was on the list of those who had "not distinguished" themselves. He got the poor rating while leading the investigation into high-ranking Republicans suspected of leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

But Collins, who led the successful federal prosecution of former Illinois GOP Gov. George Ryan on political corruption charges, stood up for Fitzgerald and put down Gonzales

"I was disappointed that Mr. Gonzales, when he's sitting next to Mr. Fitzgerald, did not put his arm on his shoulder and say, 'This guy's a great prosecutor; he's one of the best.'"

Collins made the comment on Channel 11, WTTW-TV, which has a late-night news wrap up called Chicago Tonight. Fitzgerald and Gonzales also were side-by-side during a roundtable Tuesday about the Justice Department's campaign to protect kids against Internet pornography, and Gonzales did not seem to offer any praise.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Chicago prosecutor's office has no love for the head office in Washington. Fitzgerald hauled Karl Rove in front of a grand jury during the Plame investigation.

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