Info released on ex-prosecutors online misconduct
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Justice Department report into the once-anonymous online postings of two former federal prosecutors makes clear they engaged in "extensive and intentional prosecutorial misconduct" connected to several criminal cases, according to a ruling filed by two federal judges.
The report also says there is no evidence that the two disgraced prosecutors' colleagues or their boss, former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, knew of the misconduct.
U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon and U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Wilkinson revealed information from the still-secret report by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility late Tuesday. The disclosures were contained in a ruling on by the defense attorney for Stacey Jackson. Jackson is charged with taking kickbacks when she was director of a New Orleans housing agency.
Jackson's lawyer, Edward Castaing, has asked for a copy of the report while he seeks dismissal of the indictment.
Lemmon and Wilkinson, however, ruled against providing Castaing with the report. They said that while the Justice Department report noted misconduct in several high-profile cases, it has no reference to misconduct involving Jackson's case.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jan Mann and Sal Perricone acknowledged in 2012 that they posted anonymous comments about cases at a newspaper's website.
Both resigned. Letten resigned later as the fallout from the scandal grew, although he was not implicated in online postings.
"The overall conclusion of the OPR Report is that prosecutorial misconduct of the kind committed by Perricone and Mann was confined to them and was neither sanctioned by the United States Attorney nor engaged in by others in the office," Lemmon and Wilkinson wrote.
Cases affected by the scandal include the convictions of five former police officers connected to deadly shootings of unarmed people following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four officers allegedly involved in the shooting and one tied to a subsequent cover-up are awaiting a new trial after a federal judge last September threw out the convictions, citing the online postings.
The latest ruling also revealed that a court review of material from Nola.com/The Times-Picayune, which the news agency was ordered to turn over, failed to determine the identity of an online commenter known as "Aircheck." Castaing wants to know whether Aircheck was a government official. Lemmon and Wilkinson refused to order more material from the news operation regarding still another online poster identified as "kefir."