Wednesday, October 19, 2005

''Ex-doorman's crucial clout''

"A former doorman from Brooklyn now holds in his hands the fate of two of the most powerful men in America and possibly the future of the George W. Bush presidency.
This might be the heaviest door Patrick Fitzgerald Jr. from Flatbush ever held.

The son of two immigrants from County Clare, Ireland, Fitzgerald, 44, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case, has come a long way since the days when he attended Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school on E. 29th St. (now defunct) and played accordion with his brother as his two sisters did Irish stepdancing.

While attending Regis High School, and later Amherst College, Fitzgerald worked summers and part-time "holding the door" at a luxury high-rise on E. 72nd St. At Amherst, he also took a campus maintenance job.

"He had numerous funny anecdotes about being treated shabbily by residents who didn't realize this was a Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst and later a Harvard Law student holding the door," corporate lawyer John Goggins, who's known Fitzgerald since high school, told The Washington Post in July.

Fitzgerald, who is considered an incorruptible workaholic in the U.S. attorney's office, has said he developed his work ethic at an early age from his father, Patrick Sr., also a doorman, who in all his years opening doors for the swells in a swanky building on E. 75th St. near Madison Avenue in Manhattan never took a single vacation.

"Pat," as Fitzgerald's friends call him, is not registered with any political party.

"You've met a hundred guys like Pat," says Tony Bouza, a Los Angeles lawyer who befriended Fitzgerald at Amherst. "Likable, low key, self-effacing, funny ina New York kind of way. But he hasthis amazing brain like no one you've ever known. He's smarter than 99.9% of the people you'll ever meet. ... He didn't like anyone who was pompous or stuck up. He was also an amazingly nonpolitical guy. He really has no hidden agenda except getting at the truth. Pat never liked BS."

In 1988, he became a prosecutor with the U.S. attorney's office in lower Manhattan, where over the next 13 years he put away mobsters named Gambino, indicted Osama Bin Laden and brought in convictions of the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and of the terrorists who bombed the U.S. embassies in Africa. After transferring to Chicago's U.S. attorney's office, Fitzgerald was labeled "Eliot Ness with a Harvard Law degree" when he indicted Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, and two aides to Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat.

In December 2003, he was appointed as special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame-CIA outing case, which has sent shock waves through Washington where leaking classified government information is considered a daily lunch special. In the world according to Patrick Fitzgerald, this is known as a crime.

"It's kind of odd watching Pat getting all this attention," says Bouza. "But I really can't think of anyone who is better suited for the job. ... Pat would never come after you because of your politics or forpersonal reasons. He could be making a fortune in the private sector doing half as much work. But he loves what he's doing. And he's a straight shooter. So if you come in front of him and you're innocent and tell the truth, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. But if youare in any way guilty of a federal crime, I'd be worried. Especially if you lieabout it. Because I don't care how smart you are, if you're guilty, Pat Fitzgerald's gonna get ya."

The former doorman from Brooklyn has since grilled President Bush and Vice President Cheney, has jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller for refusing to divulge her source, and had a dozen witnesses, including Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, in front of his grand jury.

Now the Beltway soothsayers are forecasting a pair of indictments against Rove and Libby coming out of Fitzgerald's grand jury.

This former doorman from Brooklyn has until Oct. 28 to wrap up his work on this case. And the next door Patrick Fitzgerald holds open for rich and powerful men could lead to a jail cell."-from the story in the New York Daily News. Maybe Clooney could play him in the movie. There's a photo with the story. My New York roots are showing.

No comments: