Letten resigns from U.S. Attorney post


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Jim Letten today announced his resignation as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, effective on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The resignation will bring to a conclusion Letten's 11-year term in office, making him the longest-serving U.S. Attorney in the country. Letten will remain employed by the office for a "brief time," he said, to aid in the transition.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a press release that Dana Boente, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, will be appointed as interim U.S. Attorney in New Orleans.

"The decision was ultimately my own," Letten said. "It is, I believe, the best course of action under the circumstances."

(More after the jump)

The announcement comes in the midst of a scandal involving inappropriate online comments made by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone and former first assistant Jan Mann. Perricone resigned in March. Mann has been removed from the number two job but remains employed by the office. Both may face more serious consequences. Letten declined to take questions, and his statement did not address Mann's status or major ongoing investigations into former Mayor Ray Nagin's administration or the River Birch Landfill.

Letten, surrounded by staff members and standing next to his wife JoAnn Letten, promised that the office will continue to pursue its current mission, which has been focused on public corruption in New Orleans and surrounding parishes.

"It is essential, it is really essential, that the challenges we take up, especially our current challenges, which we're going through right now, never, ever, ever threaten to distract or divert us," he said. "We have to ensure the safety, the transparency, the accountability, of honest, efficient government."

Statement from Holder:

“As the longest-serving U.S. Attorney in the country today, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the people of his district and the nation by working tirelessly to make their communities safer through reducing violent crime, fighting public corruption and protecting their civil rights."

“More recently, he and his office were instrumental in the department's efforts in ensuring that those who exploited the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina were held accountable. He has been a valued partner, dedicated public servant and a good friend, and I am grateful for his service to the department over these many years.”

Statement from Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“Jim Letten is a friend. He has been a great partner for the City of New Orleans as we fight public corruption and violent street crime.

“I look forward to working with President Obama and Senator Landrieu so that the next United States Attorney can be an effective prosecutor against public corruption and street crime.”


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