- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy has taken on Connecticut’s most powerful politicians, sending a governor, a state treasurer and others to prison for corruption.

Now the nation’s top law enforcement official wants her to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

Colleagues and adversaries say she’s up to the task.

“No one will outwork her. No one is going to be smarter than her,” said Mike Clark, a retired FBI agent who investigated former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland. “No one will conduct the investigation with more integrity than her.”

Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Monday named Mrs. Dannehy, 47, to look into lingering questions about the firings after a Justice Department report harshly criticized Bush administration officials, members of Congress and their aides for the ousters, which many considered politically motivated.

Potential crimes described in the report include lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and wire fraud.

Mrs. Dannehy, a graduate of Harvard Law School who has been with the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut since 1991, is known for avoiding the media and prefers to let colleagues speak for the record. Mrs. Dannehy and the U.S. Attorney’s office declined comment on her appointment.

“Nora is the soul of integrity,” said Mr. Rowland’s attorney, William Dow III. “She is intelligent, she is competent and extremely professional. She is highly regarded for her thoroughness and objectivity.”

Mrs. Dannehy prosecuted Mr. Rowland, a once popular three-term governor, after a wide-ranging investigation into contract steering and bribery in his administration. Mr. Rowland spent 10 months in prison.

Mr. Rowland had nominated Mrs. Dannehy’s brother, Michael, to the Superior Court in 2000.

Mrs. Dannehy also was the lead prosecutor in the investigation into a bribery and kickback scheme involving former state Treasurer Paul Silvester. He pleaded guilty to his role in the caper, and his testimony was key to other convictions and pleas from associates.

“She won’t let the politics get in her way of conducting an investigation,” Mr. Clark said. “She doesn’t care what political party anyone is or where their power base may be coming from.”

Mrs. Dannehy briefly served as acting U.S. attorney for Connecticut earlier this year, the first woman in Connecticut to hold that post. She replaced Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor when he was appointed associate attorney general.

Colleagues and defense attorneys describe Mrs. Dannehy as bright, dedicated, honest, methodical, patient and tenacious. A long-distance runner, Mrs. Dannehy is known to work long hours, including nights and weekends, during her investigations.

“We used to have to try to chase her out of the office,” said Jim Glasser, former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office.

Glasser said he was often amused by Mrs. Dannehy’s boxes filled with neat notes and links to targets of a probe.

“It’s a reflection of how organized her mind is,” Mr. Glasser said. “She’s like the consummate chess player, that is, she’s thinking of five moves down the board.”

Defense attorney Hugh Keefe said Mrs. Dannehy is known for presenting detailed cases.

“Nora is a not a zealot,” Mr. Keefe said. “She is willing to second-guess herself. She’s actually perfect for this role.”

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