U.S. Denies Supervisors Knew of Prosecutor’s Online Comments
By Elizabeth Murphy | May 10, 2012 2:46 pm

The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section deputy chief has taken the lead in a fraud case that has forced the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s Office to recuse itself and sent one longtime prosecutor packing after alleged misconduct.

Peter Koski and Public Integrity Section trial attorney Brian Lichter are listed as the Main Justice prosecutors in the case. Gregory Kennedy, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana, is also involved.

In a court filing Wednesday, Koski and the prosecution team dismissed the notion that upper management in the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s Office was aware of ousted Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Sal Perricone’s online comments, which lambasted the defendant. The prosecutors wrote that the assertion, from River Birch landfill executive Dominick Fazzio, was “mere speculation about a legally inconsequential issue.”

Perricone resigned from his post as No. 3 in the New Orleans office after another landfill executive filed a defamation suit against him, saying Perricone was a prolific and vitriolic online commenter at Nola.com, the Times-Picayune newspaper’s website. Perricone, behind the moniker, went on scathing rants about local officials — even his boss, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten. Letten announced last month that his office would have to recuse itself from the landfill fraud case after it became clear Perricone, who was a prosecutor in the investigation, had been commenting about it online. Letten also said the office had no knowledge of Perricone’s online persona.

Peter Koski

Koski graduated from Stanford Law School in 2005. He then served as a clerk for Judge Richard C. Tallman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He joined the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section through the Justice Department’s honors program. In 2011, he helped secure a conviction against former Puerto Rico Sen. Hector Martinez Maldonado who was charged in a bribery scheme. He also helped prosecute lobbyist Kevin Ring, who was found guilty for his role in the Jack Abramoff public corruption scandal.

Lichter is a 2009 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law. He served as a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and he has been a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section since 2010. Last month, he helped bring an indictment against a county superintendent in the Eastern District of Kentucky as part of a vote buying conspiracy.

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