The River Birch Saga Exposes Prosecutorial Misconduct in New Orleans… And DOJ is Stonewalling
Under any standard of prosecutorial conduct, let alone common decency, the actions of Federal Prosecutors in the New Orleans United States Attorney’s Office must be viewed as deviant and possibly criminal. In the process of trying to build, if not fabricate, a federal corruption case against River Birch Landfill owner, Fred Heebe, outrageous misconduct was exposed.
Not content to sit idly by as the government built its case, “Heebe went on the offensive, and he hit pay dirt, unearthing evidence that two of then-U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s top prosecutors,” first assistant Jan Mann, and senior litigation counsel, Sal Perricone, “were making inappropriate comments online using aliases.” NOLA.Com The story of how these prosecutors cum hateful web-posters were identified is itself a remarkable story, as the New Yorker recently reported. “The resulting scandal ended the careers of both prosecutors, and ultimately was the undoing of Letten, until then the nation’s longest-tenured U.S. attorney.” NOLA.Com The case against Heebe and his associates was abandoned, with extraordinary assurances that he would not be charged. NOLA.Com
Despite the misconduct that was unearthed and the need for the Department of Justice to come clean, in the most recent development, the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR), has declined to make public the results of its “internal” investigation. While this stonewalling could signify that the investigation is ongoing or that criminal charges or other enforcement actions may be distorted with the release of information at this stage, the track records of OPR and the Department’s other Internal Investigatory Bodies unfortunately suggests the opposite: that the Department simply will not police its bad apples.