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New Orleans US attorney resigns amid scandal

WASHINGTON — The top federal prosecutor in New Orleans, the longest-serving US attorney in the country, resigned Thursday amid an investigation into possible prosecutorial misconduct by two of his top deputies.

Jim Letten, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, announced his resignation at a news conference. In an emotional speech, he praised the office and said he would stay on briefly to help with the transition to new leadership.

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The resignation comes eight months into a scandal that led to a Justice Department investigation of Letten’s top deputy and a second veteran prosecutor in connection with anonymous online criticism of the target of a federal inquiry.

The two prosecutors, former first assistant US attorney Jan Mann and former assistant US attorney Sal Perricone, acknowledged using aliases to post comments on the website of the Times-Picayune that were highly critical of the owner of a local landfill that was under federal investigation, according to court papers. Perricone resigned and Mann was demoted.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the episode.

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