U.S. attorney Jim Letten resigns after scandal over online comments

For more than a decade, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has taken down some Louisiana's most corrupt politicians, crooked cops, and notorious scam artists.

Mar 3, 2020, 12:00 am*


Fernando Alfonso III 

Fernando Alfonso III

For more than a decade, U.S. attorney Jim Letten has taken down some Louisiana’s most corrupt politicians, crooked cops, and notorious scam artists.

Now the storied public servant has fallen from grace following a string of comments made by Letten’s own prosecutors on nola.com, the website for The Times-Picayune. The “provocative, even pugnacious comments about active criminal matters and other subjects” have forced Letten to quit, The New York Times reported.

One of the prosecutors making comments was Sal Perricone, who went by “Henry L. Mencken1951” on nola.com. Perricone used his alias to “bash landfill owner Fred Heebe and a raft of other local and national figures, including federal judges,” The Times-Picayune reported.

Such behavior is prohibited by the Justice Department’s manual for federal prosecutors, which states that prosecutors must “not engage in outside activities that appear to create a conflict of interest,” the Picayune added.

Another prosecutor for Letten, Jan Mann, also made public comments on cases, under the name “eweman,” Uproxx reported.

Letten claims to have not known about his prosecutor’s online activities but understands the damaging effects they can have.

“It is essential that the challenges which we take on, and especially our current challenges, which we’re going through right now, never, ever, ever, under any circumstances threaten to divert or distract us from our sacred mission of protecting the freedom, the property, the lives and the quality of lives of all of our people,” Letten said, according to The Times

After decades of serving in federal law enforcement, Letten was appointed U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Louisiana in 2001. He and his team became known as “the Untouchables” for taking down high-profile criminals and politicians like former Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards.

As U.S. attorney, Letten “prosecuted more than 230 individuals for public corruption, charged nearly 150 more with Katrina fraud, and pursued hundreds of other felony cases ranging from child porn to house flipping to bank robbery,” TheBestofNewOrleans reported.

The front-runner for Letten’s position is Heebe, who has ”been accused of abuse by a former wife,” The Times added.

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*First Published: Dec 7, 2012, 1:07 pm