2023 Investigative Summary 5
INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGED CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND FAILURE TO ADVISE THE CLIENT
An Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) reported to OPR that she was involved in a close personal relationship with a law enforcement agent who assisted in the prosecution of cases handled by the AUSA. OPR’s investigation determined that the AUSA formed a romantic relationship with the agent while prosecuting two cases with the agent and that, while their relationship was ongoing, the AUSA presented the agent as a grand jury witness to obtain indictments in the cases without disclosing the existence of the relationship to her USAO supervisors or the grand jury.
Based on the results of its investigation, OPR concluded that the AUSA violated her obligations under the rules of professional conduct when she knowingly failed to keep her client reasonably informed by not disclosing to her USAO supervisors that she was involved in a romantic relationship with a law enforcement agent working on her cases and who was a testifying witness. OPR also concluded that the AUSA violated her obligations under the rules of professional conduct when she knowingly continued to represent the government despite a conflict of interest that arose from her romantic relationship with the agent and without having obtained her client’s consent to her continued representation of the government. OPR further concluded that the AUSA did not commit professional misconduct when she failed to inform the grand jury of her romantic relationship with the agent in the cases in which she presented the agent as a witness because this potential bias information was not required to be disclosed under applicable law and Department policy.
The AUSA resigned from the Department following OPR’s investigation. OPR referred its misconduct findings to the Professional Misconduct Review Unit, which subsequently affirmed OPR’s findings and conclusions and authorized OPR to refer the former AUSA to the appropriate state attorney disciplinary authority, which OPR has done.