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

NEWORLEANS- Things are slowly returning to normal at the federal court house in downtown New Orleans, one day after the longtime U.S. Attorney Jim Letten dropped a bombshell by announcing his resignation.

Friday, Letten even took part in a meeting with a group of judges from Moldova. Letten handed the judges his business card and joked it would only be good until next Tuesday.

While an interim is expected to be in the office early next week, the search for Letten's permanent replacement has kicked into high gear.

'Jim really set the bar,' said Greg Rusovich, past chairman of the New Orleans Business Council. 'He set the standard. So, it's going to be extremely difficult to replace, if ever, a Jim Letten.'

Louisiana's senior Senator Mary Landrieu will play a huge role in recommending a nominee for the post. President Obama will make the final decision.

Eyewitness News has chosen not to speculate on potential candidates since Landrieu admits her office has just started working on a short list.

But, local business leaders say they are prepared to fight for a U.S. Attorney who will be hard on crime and corruption with impeccable credentials.

'Hopefully this won't be some type of political choice, driven by politics, or driven by someone who is politically connected,' said Rusovich. 'That's really what we don't want.'

While Letten is leaving, his former first assistant Jan Mann is still on staff according to the Department of Justice..

Her improper online rants and those of another former senior prosecutor Sal Perricone led to Letten's demise.

Mann's brother Joe Maselli sent us an email suggesting his sister is not the villain here.

'Just be careful to avoid defaming anyone via electronic communication, even people who are incapable of being defamed and who use civil litigation in an effort to defend themselves against criminal prosecution,' said Maselli. 'Just the thought of that gives me the Heebe-Jeebies.'

That was an obvious reference to River Birch landfill owner Fred Heebe, a target of the online posts whose defamation lawsuits exposed Mann and Perricone.

Heebe has not been charged with a crime, but is the focus of a federal investigation into a controversial solid waste contract in Jefferson Parish.

Maselli also said, 'There is nothing I can tell you about my sister's current 'situation. I will have to let her exemplary 31-year career speak for her for now.'

Rusovich says rebuilding confidence in the U.S. Attorneys Office is vital.

'If we don't have a strong U.S. Attorneys Office working very well with the NOPD, working very well with the DA's office, working well with the other components of the criminal justice system, that makes this a less palatable place to invest, a less palatable place to keep your employees, keep your business, bring in new investment.'

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