I wrote here about Robert O’Neill, President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. I pointed to the strong criticism O’Neill received from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia over his conduct in the prosecution of Deborah Gore Dean.
I also noted, based on the reporting of my friend Jim Scanlan, that O’Neill appears to have provided inaccurate and misleading statements on his application for the U.S. Attorney job regarding complaints arising from the prosecution of Ms. Dean. O’Neill stated: “After her conviction on all counts, Ms. Dean filed a bar complaint alleging a number of instances of prosecutorial misconduct during the trial.”
But according to Jim, Dean did not file a bar complaint and, in fact, there was already an ongoing investigation by Bar Counsel prior to the time when Jim and counsel for Dean filed their complaint. Jim thus raises the question of whether “O’Neill deliberately misstated the origin of the investigation because he believed that a complaint filed by a convicted defendant would raise fewer concerns with the Florida Nominating Commission than an investigation initiated by the person or entity that actually initiated it.” Jim has more to say about this issue here.
Jim has also raised another concern. It seems that O’Neill is embroiled in a nasty dispute with former Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Del Fuoco, who was once his colleague. Del Fuoco has sued O’Neill on a number of matters, including defamation for statements O’Neill made about him in the Nominating Commission application.
One of Del Fuoco’s allegations is that O’Neill threatened bodily injury to Del Fuoco in statements made in the U.S. Attorney’s office to three AUSA’s. According to Jim, Del Fuoco identifies all three by name.
Del Fuoco has set forth deposition testimony in which O’Neill acknowledges that he may have made statements along the lines described by Del Fuoco, but denies that he made such statements in the workplace. Del Fuoco maintains that this denial constitutes perjury by O’Neill.
I have no idea who is telling the truth here – O’Neill or Del Fuoco. But since Del Fuoco says he has three witnesses, this would not appear to be a case of “he says, he says.” And since perjury by a nominee for a U.S. Attorney position should clearly be disqualifying, this matter (as well as the matter of O’Neill’s misstatement about who filed the bar complaint regarding his handling of the Dean case) calls for a full investigation. Yet Jim says that, neither in the vetting process for the U.S. Attorney nomination nor at any other time, has a Department representative asked the AUSAs whether Del Fuoco’s allegations concerning O’Neill’s perjury in the earlier case are true.
It seems to me that there are questions that need to be explored before O’Neill is confirmed (or not).
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