House Panel Probes Claim Attorney Fitzgerald's Office Framed Developer

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A former Chicago developer on Thursday claimed that the House Judiciary Committee is in the middle of a four-year investigation into his long-standing complaint that he was framed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office six years ago.

Fitzgerald has been at the forefront of a slew of high-profile political cases and currently is leading the corruption case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Peter Palivos claims Fitzgerald's attorneys framed him during an investigation into another politician, former Gov. George Ryan.

Palivos says the attorneys slapped him with a bogus obstruction of justice charge after he wouldn't lie for prosecutors seeking Ryan's conviction in the corruption case, and he claims they even got witnesses to lie in their testimony against Palivos. Palivos was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to a year in prison in 2005.

Since then, he has been engaged in a vigorous campaign against Fitzgerald's office and has dragged Congress into it.

"God willing, the truth will come out," Palivos told "There's compelling and conclusive evidence of misconduct."

In a May court document, Fitzgerald wrote that Palivos' claims are "completely frivolous" and constitute a "bombardment of reckless and unfounded accusations."

The public relations firm that represents Palivos originally announced that a House Judiciary subcommittee would call witnesses in the Palivos case Thursday afternoon. But even though Palivos traveled from Las Vegas to Capitol Hill for the hearing, the committee did not end up addressing his case in any depth -- apparently due to a technicality, according to Palivos, though the committee claims the hearing was never about Fitzgerald.

Randall Samborn, spokesman for Fitzgerald's office, pointed to the fizzled hearing in questioning Palivos' claims.

"There's no hearing on this subject," he said. "Everything that was purported to have been occurring today didn't occur."

Though representatives on the committee declined to discuss the case, internal correspondence shows the panel has been looking at the matter at least since early 2008, when Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., wrote to then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging the Justice Department to review "possible prosecutorial misconduct" in Palivos' trial.

They wrote that witnesses had come forward to claim in sworn affidavits that they were forced to lie in the case and that prosecutors "engaged in misconduct."

The Justice Department wrote back a month later saying that federal court had already rejected all of Palivos' claims and no further action was warranted. "We consider this matter closed," the office wrote.

After the Obama administration took office, Conyers and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., tried again, writing in May to Attorney General Eric Holder making the same case.

They also requested six attorneys and agents be made available to the committee for interviews. In response, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote in July that "no additional inquiry is warranted at this time."

Weich wrote that prior allegations of prosecutorial misconduct were "found to be without merit" by U.S. District Court in three separate opinions, and by the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Palivos accused the Justice Department of "stonewalling" and said he thinks the office would permit its attorneys to answer the committee's questions "if they had nothing to hide."

Among U.S. attorneys, Fitzgerald is a heavyweight.

He was drawn in 2003 into the controversy over the leaked identity of former covert CIA employee Valerie Plame, tapped by the Bush administration to lead the investigation into the matter. That probe led to the conviction of former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on perjury and obstruction of justice charges two years later. He also helped prosecute the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and four terrorists convicted of bombing U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.