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Assistant Atty. Gen. Lanny Breuer to exit amid criticism, praise

January 30, 2013|By Richard A. Serrano
  • Assistant Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer announced Wednesday that he is stepping down after running the Justice Department's Criminal Division the last four years.
Assistant Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer announced Wednesday that he is stepping… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)

WASHINGTON — Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer, who made his mark ramping up the prosecution of white-collar crime and overseeing the government’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill investigation, announced he is soon leaving his post as one of the longest serving heads of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

While Breuer, 54, had been expected to depart after serving four years in President Obama’s first term, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, noted that Breuer, who was formally admonished in the Fast and Furious scandal, has now become the third top Justice official to step down after the department’s blistering inspector general’s report into the flawed gun-tracking operation.

But Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. strongly praised Breuer’s work after the Criminal Division won record penalties in corruption cases, dismantled major organized crime outfits and took on healthcare and mortgage fraud scams.

“Lanny has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the mission of this department,” Holder said.

Issa criticized Breuer, who leaves March 1, for being “at the heart of several critical failures” in Fast and Furious and failing to alert his superiors about the border operation in which ATF agents allowed illegal gun sales in an effort to track the weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

“This resignation,” Issa said, “paves the way for needed new leadership in the Criminal Division.”

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richard.serrano@latimes.com

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