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A prosecutor is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be indicted by the government on obstruction of justice charges. The odds of getting zapped are about one in 5,000, according to the National Weather Service; the odds of a prosecutor being indicted are two in 11,000, according to a recent court filing in the criminal case of Richard Convertino, a former assistant U.S. attorney who, we might reasonably conclude from the figures above, is supremely unlucky. While he hasn’t been struck by lightning, Convertino is facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly withholding evidence in the Detroit “sleeper cell” case�charges he and his attorney, Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan Jr., say are retaliation for criticisms of the department’s counterterrorism effort Convertino made in a whistleblower suit he filed against former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. Sullivan, who made the odds argument in a reply filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, also couldn’t resist the opportunity to tie Convertino’s troubles to the ongoing scrutiny over U.S. attorney firings. “There is a precise parallel here to the administration’s firing of the eight U.S. attorneys which we’ve all read so much about,” he says. The Justice Department declined to comment, but the government’s filings make clear that it subscribes to the “you make your own luck” theory. “Any relevant connections between this prosecution and other matters described in the defense brief exist exclusively within [Convertino's] imagination,” prosecutors wrote in a brief in late July. “There is extensive precedent for the Justice Department prosecuting government employees who lie under oath and obstruct justice.”

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