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The federal prosecutor who was leading the investigation into the still-unsolved murder of D.C. lawyer Robert Wone abruptly left his post last month, has hired a personal lawyer, and will resign on April 27. The reasons for the departure of Thomas “Tad” DiBiase, a deputy chief of the homicide division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, are still unclear. The U.S. Attorney’s Office would not talk much about it, but there is plenty of speculation and contradictory accounts among police, prosecutors, and defense attorneys — some of it circulating on the Internet. In an e-mail, Channing Phillips, principal associate U.S. attorney, said, “His departure had absolutely nothing to do with the Wone investigation.” DiBiase, 42, has hired former executive assistant U.S. attorney Robert “Monty” Wilkinson, now with Troutman Sanders, to handle his severance. A 12-year veteran of the federal prosecutor’s office, DiBiase was widely respected by colleagues and cops, and some say his departure has hurt morale and has stalled casework in the homicide division. Lawyers connected to the investigation into the August 2006 murder of Wone, the former general counsel of Radio Free Asia, said last week they did not know who was replacing DiBiase as prosecutor for the probe. Glenn Kirschner, head of the homicide division, says, “There are no case consequences as a result of him leaving.” Kirschner declined to comment on the reason for DiBiase’s departure, saying it was a personnel matter. But he said the Wone case was being closely monitored and would likely be taken over by the original prosecutor, Colleen Covell, who has been on leave. The division, he noted, has two other deputies, Amanda Haines and David Gorman, and a total of 24 prosecutors who largely practice in D.C. Superior Court. He said DiBiase did not have many cases because he was a supervisor and had only rejoined the homicide division in December. Before that, DiBiase was special counsel for professional development and had worked on community prosecutions. He is a 1991 graduate of Brooklyn Law School. Calls to Wilkinson and DiBiase were not returned.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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