Anonymous Blog Comments Snag Another US Prosecutor; Suit Cited 'Superfluous Spacing' as Clue
A New Orleans federal prosecutor who was second in command to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten has been demoted after admitting she posted anonymous comments on a newspaper website.
Letten announced the demotion of First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann on Thursday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Associated Press reported. The announcement follows a defamation lawsuit filed earlier this month alleging Mann used the online alias of “eweman” to criticize a landfill operator whose business is the subject of a federal probe.
The lawsuit (PDF) cited several clues that Mann was the likely author of the eweman posts at NOLA.com, the Times-Picayune website. They included: Eweman used “superfluous spacing before punctuation marks,” just as Mann had done in other writings. Eweman used ellipses without spacing between periods as Mann had done in a pleading. One of the online posts used an obscure term, “fender lizard,” to refer to “cop groupies,” a phrase that that Mann had used in conversation. Also, the posts “attack individuals for whom Ms. Mann is known to feel great personal antipathy.”
“Eweman” appears to be inspired by the initials of former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, in combination with Mann’s last name, the suit by landfill owner Fred Heebe says. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on the lawsuit last week.
Mann’s demotion follows the March resignation of another federal prosecutor in the office who was also accused of writing critical anonymous online posts. The prosecutor, Sal Perricone, admitted making hundreds of posts at NOLA.com using the name Henry L. Mencken1951. A suit by Heebe had linked Perricone to the posts in part because of his use of alliteration and antiquated words such as “dubiety” and “redoubt.”