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U.S. attorney post gets another temp
The three nominees appear to be caught in a partisan political struggle in Washington, D.C.
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published October 27, 2007
TAMPA - The White House has replaced one temporary U.S. attorney for Florida's Middle District with another.
The Justice Department announced Friday that Robert E. O'Neill, the head of the federal criminal division in the Tampa-based office, will serve as the interim U.S. attorney for the next four months.
O'Neill, 50, steps in as James R. Klindt's term in the temporary post expires. Klindt will be sworn in Wednesday as a magistrate judge to work in the Jacksonville federal courthouse.
"My priorities are going to be the same as those of the Department of Justice," O'Neill said. "The office has done a good job of that. You always hope to improve. You just want to serve the community."
Meanwhile, the three nominees for the local federal prosecutor's post appear to be caught up in a partisan tug-of-war over the Senate confirmation of a new attorney general.
Earlier this week, members of Congress urged President Bush to select a permanent U.S. attorney for the Middle District, considered one of the busiest in the country and comprised of 35 of Florida's 67 counties.
White House spokesman Blair Jones blamed the delay on senators. "The sooner the Senate confirms our attorney general nominee, Judge (Michael) Mukasey, the sooner we can nominate U.S. attorneys and senior officials at the Justice Department," he said.
Klindt took over in the Middle District when Paul Perez announced in March that he was stepping down as U.S. attorney to join the private sector. Klindt's 210-day appointment ended Friday.
In July, a judicial nominating commission sent three names - Brian Albritton, a criminal defense attorney for Holland & Knight in Tampa; Dennis Moore, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tampa; and F.T. "Frank" Williams, an assistant U.S. attorney in Gainesville - to Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson.
Neither Klindt nor O'Neill applied for the job.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.
Robert E. O'Neill
Job: Interim U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida.
Background: Born and raised in the Bronx borough of New York City. He co-owns Four Green Fields, a popular Irish pub near downtown Tampa.
Education: Undergraduate studies at Fordham University and attended New York Law School.