Wednesday, August 18, 2004

BALTIMORE (AP) — A federal prosecutor found dead with 36 stab wounds late last year was troubled about his job security and the management style of his boss, according to a letter written by a colleague.

In a sharply critical letter to U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Griffin disputed that Jonathan P. Luna was secure in his job in Baltimore.

“Jonathan is also gone after much heartache and distress over your style,” Miss Griffin, an 18-year veteran of the Maryland office, wrote in the Aug. 6 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Just days after Mr. Luna’s death, Mr. DiBiagio flatly denied to the Baltimore Sun that Mr. Luna had fallen out of favor with his superiors.

“I am deeply embarrassed to hear that you led the press to believe that Jonathan was not in jeopardy of losing his job. That was not so,” Miss Griffin wrote.

Mr. Luna was so concerned about his job status that he hired an outside lawyer to represent him in job-related issues, WBAL-TV reported Tuesday. Sources told the station that Mr. Luna considered the step necessary because he believed Mr. DiBiagio was trying to push him out.

Mr. Luna, 38, was found drowned, facedown in a creek Dec. 4 near Denver, Pa. His silver 1999 Honda Accord was idling nearby.

His body was found hours before two men he had been prosecuting in a heroin case pleaded guilty in the deal he had just worked out with their attorneys in Baltimore.

The FBI has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to a resolution of the case. No one has been arrested.

In March, authorities said they were considering that Mr. Luna might have committed suicide. They also said they were exploring whether Mr. Luna was a victim of premeditated murder or a random killing. Authorities have not commented publicly about the investigation since the March press conference.

Miss Griffin’s comments about Mr. Luna were part of a wide-ranging critique of Mr. DiBiagio. Miss Griffin wrote she was leaving Baltimore for a job at the Justice Department.

She wrote that Mr. DiBiagio was trying to create “a dangerous homogeneity of thought” in the office.

“Good lawyers no longer speak up for fear of having their reputations tarnished. I know I have often felt that way myself,” she wrote.

Last month, Mr. DiBiagio was reprimanded in a rare rebuke from the Justice Department for urging his staff to produce three “front page” indictments of elected officials by the first week of November.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey ordered the prosecutor to submit any proposed indictments in public corruption cases to him.

Miss Griffin announced that she was leaving Aug. 27 to work in the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates claims of misconduct by federal prosecutors.

Mr. DiBiagio’s spokeswoman, Vickie LeDuc, said Mr. DiBiagio called a meeting of his staff of 70 lawyers Aug. 6 to review Miss Griffin’s complaints.

At the meeting, Miss Griffin “expressed her regret for sending the letter” and her appreciation of Mr. DiBiagio’s “commitment to address any and all concerns raised by the assistants in the office,” Miss LeDuc told The Washington Post.

She also told the newspaper that Mr. DiBiagio’s supervisory staff reviewed Miss Griffin’s letter and found it had “no merit.”

Miss LeDuc declined to elaborate when reached by the Associated Press.

Miss Griffin did not return calls seeking comment. She also did not comment to The Post.

In her new job, Miss Griffin wrote, she will deal with “prosecutorial misconduct and the abuse of power.”

“These issues have been uppermost in my mind these past two years,” Miss Griffin wrote.

Mr. DiBiagio was appointed by President Bush in 2001. Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Isiah Leggett has called for Mr. DiBiagio’s resignation. Mr. Leggett reiterated that Tuesday.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide