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Former federal prosecutor refiles lawsuit against O'Neill, Holder

Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Del Fuoco has refiled a lawsuit against Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill that says O'Neill violated federal laws by releasing confidential information in an effort to get himself appointed U.S. attorney in Florida's Middle District.

Del Fuoco's defamation lawsuit against O'Neill was tossed out last month after U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore scolded Del Fuoco for making scandalous accusations.

In the new filing, Del Fuoco again included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as a defendant. He also accuses John Fitzgibbons, chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission that selected O'Neill as one of three nominees for the top prosecuting job, of distributing confidential information illegally obtained from Justice Department files.

Del Fuoco said Fitzgibbons got the information from former CBS news correspondent Eric Engberg, a Palmetto resident. Engberg is a friend of a Manatee County deputy involved in a federal investigation Del Fuoco handled while he was a federal prosecutor.

Engberg said he obtained the letter about Del Fuoco legally by using the Freedom of Information Act at a federal agency that hears complaints from federal workers. Engberg said he respects O'Neill's work and did not want to stand by and let Del Fuoco "hijack the federal appointment process to settle an old score."

The Justice Department documents include a letter outlining the reasons behind Del Fuoco's departure from the U.S. Attorney's Office, where he was supervised by O'Neill.

Del Fuoco says many of the allegations were untrue and damaged his reputation. He also accuses O'Neill of making false and defamatory statements.

O'Neill has accused Del Fuoco of repeatedly filing court pleadings in an attempt to smear his reputation. Del Fuoco has written a number of letters to Sen. Bill Nelson and the White House in an attempt to derail O'Neill's appointment.

The new lawsuit seeks damages and costs from O'Neill and Holder.

O'Neill has repeatedly declined to comment on Del Fuoco's accusations and did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Former federal prosecutor refiles lawsuit against O'Neill, Holder 03/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010 11:40pm]
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