Letten steps down from U.S. Attorney’s Office amid online comment scandal

Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 6:53pm

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten announced today that he will step down from his post.

Letten made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 6. He said that he will officially leave the office on Dec. 11.

“At that time I will retire from service to the United States. The decision was ultimately mine,” he said. “Although that decision was not an easy one or taken lightly, it is, I believe, the best course of action for this office, this department of justice, for the people and for the people that we serve of this city and for me personally as well.”

The move comes after two prosecutors and his former top deputy posted defamatory comments on a news website under alias names. The comments involved targets and defendants in open criminal cases.

“While the recent revelations of wrongdoing within his office are indeed troubling, his record of rooting out public corruption is to be commended,” U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu said in an official statement. “I thank him for his 12 years of service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana and wish him well in his future endeavors. He will continue to be an asset for our community.”

Attorney General Holder named Dana J. Boente, First Assistant Attorney for the Eastern District of Virgina, to take Letten’s place in the interim. Holder also appointed John A. Horn, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, with the task of getting to the bottom of the controversy.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that he will work with President Obama and Senator Landrieu “so that the next United States Attorney can be an effective prosecutor against public corruption and street crime.”

Letten concluded the press conference by saying that he cannot comment further, but did note that he will continue to work with the department for a short period of time during the transition.

“Make no mistake about it, I stand before you…with enormous, unabashed pride in everything we’ve accomplished and the tremendous successes we’ve forged over the years. New Orleans, this city, this region, this state are all places of all of our citizens can be truly proud and prouder every single day,” he concluded. “We must never give up the fight that we have carried to the streets, to our neighborhoods and our schools that will continue to serve our people. We have to ensure the safety, the transparency and accountability of our government.

“This office and this department will continue forward and that commitment will never waiver.”

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