The New Orleans U.S. Attorney has confirmed that his former No. 2 wrote disparaging online comments as “eweman” on the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s website, Nola.com, the newspaper reports.
Jim Letten said in a court filing that Jan Mann, who was demoted from her position as First Assistant U.S. Attorney last month, was indeed behind the online alias
The online commenting scandal has plagued Letten’s office for much of the year, with another longtime federal prosecutor resigning over similar allegations in March. Now, Letten’s previous near-lock on retaining his job is looking dimmer and dimmer.
“Letten’s reign as the nation’s longest-serving United States Attorney appears in peril,” writes John Simerman of the Times-Picayune.
In announcing Mann’s demotion, Letten confirmed she had posted online comments at Nola.com, but he did not offer any more details. Letten’s letter to District Judge Hayden Head admits Mann’s identity as “eweman,” which is the moniker behind numerous posts about ongoing federal criminal matters.
Head is presiding over a case against former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard in a large-scale corruption scandal, the Times-Picayune reported. This summer, Head ordered the New Orlean’s U.S. Attorney’s office to provide details of its investigation of the online commenting scandal. Former federal prosecutor Sal Perricone resigned in the wake of the scandal. Mann gave the office’s response to the judge, and Head then denied a motion to recuse the U.S. Attorney’s office, the paper reported.
In light of the scandal, a federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to reopen an inquiry into leaks surrounding the Danzinger Bridge case, in which New Orleans police officers were convicted of shooting people in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. At issue is whether prosecutors hiding behind online commenting personas tried to run a secret PR campaign against the accused officers.
Letten has said he never had any prior knowledge of the online comments coming from prosecutors in his office. The Justice Department in Washington, D.C., is investigating.