U.S. Attorney Letten demotes top assistant in blogging scandal

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 9 at 9:19 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A top federal prosecutor is demoted after a lawsuit outs her improper online blogging.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten admits in a carefully crafted statement that his top assistant Jan Mann blogged about cases and newsmakers under the online handle "eweman."

"Assistant U.S. Attorney Mann used NOLA.com to post comments," said Letten. "As of Monday night, November 5, 2012, AUSA Jan Maselli Mann is no longer serving in the supervisory positions of first assistant United States attorney or chief of the criminal division."

"The Department of Justice is going to decide exactly what her duties are and I think her duties will be severely limited," said former federal prosecutor and Eyewitness News legal analyst Chick Foret.

Sources say Jan Mann is taking vacation time while the Department of Justice investigates her case.

The allegations that surfaced Friday in a lawsuit filed by embattled landfill owner Fred Heebe apparently caught her boss by surprise.

In June, Letten appeared before a federal judge looking into online commenting by another top assistant Sal Perricone.

According to a transcript of the hearing, Letten told Judge Kurt Englehardt, "In terms of Perricone, Judge, I will tell you right now on the record that I didn't and I've said this publicly before, neither I, nor Jan Mann, nor people in positions of authority in our office, to my knowledge did not have knowledge of, nor did we authorize, nor did we procure or have any knowledge of Sal Perricone anonymously posting comments about cases or anything like that whatsoever until we learned about it in the filing. That is gospel truth."

"You would think that she would have said well, you know I don't know about Mr. Perricone, but I was doing it, but, obviously that didn't happen," said high profile defense attorney Buddy Lemann, a target of several "eweman" post.

Lemann says the next logical step in the investigation is to find out what Jan Mann's federal prosecutor husband Jim Mann knows and whether he was also blogging.

"Did Jim Mann know that his wife was doing this," said Lemann. "If he did, that would make an other major, major player in that office having knowledge of this type of conduct."

Foret says it will be hard for Letten to survive the blogging scandal.

"He has truly been a top notch prosecutor, but now it looks like his reappointment is in serious jeopardy," Foret said.

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