Targeted U.S. Attorney Brownlee resigns
UPDATE 4:15pm– At his 2:30 press conference, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee says he's "seriously considering" a run for attorney general, according to the Roanoke Times.
POSTED 11:26am– U.S. Attorney John L. Brownlee, top federal prosecutor for western Virginia who was on a list of attorneys considered for firing under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, announces his resignation today.
Brownlee testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall that he was contacted at home by a high-level Gonzalez staffer October 24, 2006, the deadline for Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma to accept the government's offer to settle or face other charges for falsely marketing the highly addictive drug. A week after that phone call, Brownlee was placed on a list of prosecutors being considered for dismissal. Pharma Purdue settled for $635 million last May.
Brownlee was in Charlottesville March 20 to announce the indictment of a man in the 2006 murder of Katherine Danielle Howard. Other local prosecutions during his administration include 17 members of the notorious Westside Crew, swindler Terry Dowdell, and Shenandoah Park murders suspect Darrell Rice– until forensic evidence forced the government to drop its case against Rice.
Washington and Lee/William and Mary Law School grad Brownlee lives in Roanoke with his wife, Lee Ann Necessary Brownlee, and two kids. A release about his pending resignation, effective May 16, did not include information on what he plans to do next. He'll hold a press conference this afternoon in Roanoke to make the announcement.