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NEW ORLEANS -- The U.S. Attorney's Office is recusing itself from the cases involving the River Birch landfill, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, and allowing the Department of Justice to handle the legal side of the cases.

'Following consultation with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana determined that it would be appropriate to request recusal in any matters involving River Birch, and also in the cases involving U.S. v. Titus, U.S. v. Mouton, and U.S. v. Fazzio,' said the statement from Letten.

'Recusal is a time-tested practice to avoid even the appearance or allegation of a conflict of interest in the investigation and prosecution of cases and in this case is not an indication of any impropriety or misconduct on the part of the United States Attorney's Office,' said Letten.

According to the statement, the cases will be handled by the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, along with assistance from the FBI and the IRS.

The recusal comes after former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone resigned in the wake of the comments he made on under the pseudonym 'Henry L. Mencken1951.'

Perricone's postings as Mencken included criticisms of judges and of Letten himself and some were comments that dealt with the River Birch probe. The identity of Perricone as the writer of the comments came to light after River Birch co-owner Fred Heebe claimed in a court petition that the comments made by Mencken were actually made by Perricone.

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