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U.S. attorney involved in leaking Fast and Furious document

May 20, 2013|By Richard A. Serrano
  • Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. swears in on Capitol Hill before testifying.
Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. swears in on Capitol Hill before testifying. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The former top federal prosecutor in Arizona retaliated against the lead whistle blower in the Fast and Furious controversy by leaking an internal report that suggested he too once favored “walking guns” along the Southwest border and would be accessible to U.S. criminals and drug cartels in Mexico, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office determined Monday.

Dennis K. Burke, who resigned in the wake of the Fast and Furious matter, conceded to Inspector General investigators that he leaked an internal memorandum to a television producer in which ATF Special Agent John Dodson discussed an earlier case involving gun-walking on the border. Burke told Inspector General investigators that he was “unabashed” about leaking the memo and did not feel he had done anything illegal.

However, he was sharply admonished by his supervisor, the deputy attorney general in Washington, prodded to resign over Fast and Furious, and quickly left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. Until then he was seen as a rising Democratic political star. His departure came after he also leaked a separate internal memo to The New York Times about guns recovered at the shooting of a Border Patrol agent. Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole called that “another horrible incident of bad judgment.”

The Inspector General referred the Burke matter to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility to determine whether his behavior violated state bar association rules of conduct. It remained unclear, however, whether the OPR could go further and open a broader investigation.

Burke could not immediately be reached for comment. Legal records indicate he has joined a global security firm along with Mark Sullivan, director of the U.S. Secret Service, who retired after a scandal involving his agents and prostitutes in Colombia.

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richard.serrano@latimes.com

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