- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The resume Christian Marrone submitted to the government to win his job as Homeland Security Department chief of staff glosses over his five years working as an aide to a convicted Pennsylvania state senator that led him to become the central witness in the trial that sent his former boss to prison.

Mr. Marrone’s resume, obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act, made no mention of former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who was convicted on more than 100 corruption charges and spent four years in prison after Mr. Marrone testified against him in 2008.

Instead, Mr. Marrone characterized his time as a state Senate aide as working for members of the chamber’s appropriations committee.

“Worked with members of Congress in the House and Senate to facilitate and initiate funding and legislation for a wide range of issues affecting the Commonwealth,” Mr. Marrone wrote of his years with Mr. Fumo.

In 2008, Mr. Marrone testified that he spent much of his time working under Mr. Fumo overseeing the renovations of the politician’s mansion and doing political work on government time. Court records also show he hired a private eye to dig up dirt on one of Mr. Fumo’s political rivals and agreed to Mr. Fumo’s request to serve as president of a company called Hi Tech Ventures that accepted property purchased with nonprofit money that was supposed to be spent revitalizing blighted urban neighborhoods.

An audit conducted years after Mr. Marrone left the company concluded that the nonprofit funds were used improperly for a for-profit venture and demanded that the money be repaid.

Mr. Marrone’s resume makes no mention of his work as president of that firm.

Following stories in The Times, top Republican investigators on Capitol Hill have called on the Homeland Security Department to turn over information about the background check that cleared Mr. Marrone to take over his post at the department.

Mr. Marrone also required a background clearance when he served as a political appointee in the Defense Department during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The questions about Mr. Marrone’s work under Mr. Fumo and his efforts to portray himself in a favorable light for his job could surface as his new boss, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, prepares to testify Wednesday before a House committee. Mr. Johnson is expected to face questions about what he knew about Mr. Marrone’s background and whether the corruption case was flagged during the security background check.

When The Times first reported a few weeks ago about Mr. Marrone’s past as an aide to Mr. Fumo — including his acknowledgments about working on the job to help renovate Mr. Fumo’s mansion — his supporters sought to defend him by echoing his comments at the 2008 trial that he was a young legislative aide who was unwittingly used by a corrupt politician.

The vast majority of Mr. Marrone’s three-page resume is devoted to his years working in the Pentagon as a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Mr. Marrone said he advised the secretary and deputy secretary on “critical national security issues” including the budget, cybersecurity, homeland defense and key acquisition programs.

He also said he led Mr. Gates’ task force to reduce duplication and overhead, helping to save more than $50 billion. Mr. Gates praised Mr. Marrone by name in his recent book.

But Mr. Marrone’s resume also lists his nearly two years as a prosecutor in Montgomery County, Pa., after leaving Mr. Fumo in 2002, as he “prepared and prosecuted criminal cases” from initial charging to final disposition.

Bruce Castor, the former Montgomery County district attorney who supervised and later fired Mr. Marrone, said it’s “exceedingly rare” that an assistant district attorney would be involved in a charging decision. Even then, he said, it would have be a very serious case and would be handled by a seasoned prosecutor.

“Mr. Marrone never reached a point in our office where I considered him experienced and capable enough to make charging decisions as a matter of course,” Mr. Castor said.

A Homeland Security spokesman defended Mr. Marrone and his resume.

“During his time in government, Mr. Marrone has won the confidence of two secretaries — Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson — under two administrations,” spokesman Peter Boogaard said Monday.

“During their time together at the Department of Defense, Secretary Johnson was impressed with Mr. Marrone’s integrity and management abilities, and he has already been a strong addition to the management team at DHS.”

On his resume, Mr. Marrone also listed numerous crimes successfully prosecuted during his tenure, including murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault, but Mr. Castor said he didn’t recall Mr. Marrone having ever been the primary prosecutor on a murder case.

A 2003 article in the Pennsylvania-based Mercury News did identify Mr. Marrone as a prosecutor who was assisting a case against two men convicted of murder.

But Mr. Castor said his office often assigned junior attorneys to assist capable and seasoned prosecutors as a “teaching opportunity.”

“He might have been a ‘helper’ to the primary prosecutor, but that’s about it,” Mr. Castor said.

Media reports cite Mr. Marrone as having said he was fired from his job under Mr. Castor for endorsing Mr. Castor’s rival for the attorney general’s job, Tom Corbett, a Republican who is now Pennsylvania’s governor.

• Jim McElhatton can be reached at jmcelhatton@washingtontimes.com.

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