Federal Prosecutor Resigns After Anonymous Online Comments

Federal Prosecutor Resigns After Anonymous Online Comments

After acknowledging that he made anonymous online comments about the owner of a landfill who is the subject of a federal probe, Sal Perricone, a federal prosecutor in New Orleans, resigned on March 20th. Apparently, Perricone has admitted to making hundreds of posts at NOLA.com using the name Henry L. Mencken1951.

Prior to the resignation, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten announced that Perricone had been removed from all matters which he had commented at the website, which is maintained by The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Perricone also used the same “anonymous” online name to criticize federal judges and other political figures. For example, one comment of Mencken1951 asserted that U.S. District Judge Helen “Ginger” Berrigan is someone who “loves killers.” In another, the writer complained that his boss Letten “is great for taking credit for other people’s hard work. It is the assistants and agents who do the work and should be congratulated.”

Apparently, Perricone revealed to Letten that he was the author after the landfill owner hired a forensic linguistics expert to examine nearly 600 comments made by Mencken1951. The expert discovered similarities between the online comments and a Perricone brief.

This situation sends a clear message: anonymity does not excuse a lawyer’s departure from professional ethics. The obligations to maintain confidentiality and avoid conduct that impugns the integrity of the judiciary or impedes the fair administration of justice reign supreme.

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