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Being indicted won’t deter former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino from forging ahead with a civil suit against the U.S. Department of Justice. Last week, Convertino, 45, was charged with conspiracy and obstructing justice for lying to strengthen a federal case against an alleged al Qaeda sleeper cell in 2003. With rumors of misconduct swirling, the veteran Detroit prosecutor filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in early 2004, accusing the Justice Department of “gross mismanagement” and of initiating a smear campaign against him. “The case is not impacted and will go forward,” says Stephen Kohn of D.C.’s Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, who is representing Convertino in the suit. Last fall, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth threw out much of Convertino’s lawsuit, which was on hold pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. With Lamberth’s recent decision to lift the stay on what remains of the civil case, Convertino is gearing up to fight DOJ on two fronts. In addition to Convertino, Harry Raymon Smith III, a former State Department security officer who assisted with the Detroit sleeper-cell prosecution, was also indicted. Two of the four men charged in the sleeper-cell case were convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, but a federal judge overturned the verdicts after finding exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense.
Sarah Kelley can be contacted at [email protected].

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