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Suspended prosecutor resigns post

By GRAHAM BRINK

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


TAMPA -- A federal prosecutor suspended from practicing law for letting a witness testify under a false name has submitted her resignation.

Karen Cox will leave the appellate division of the U.S. Attorney's Office on June 15, when the resignation takes effect.

Interim U.S. Attorney Mac Cauley made the announcement Tuesday, five days after the Florida Supreme Court suspended Cox from the practice of law for a year, saying "the public clearly deserves protection from a prosecutor who determines on her own when and how to follow the rules."

Cox, 37, did not return calls Tuesday.

In May 1998, Cox allowed a federal informer to testify under a pseudonym in a case against an Orlando bus driver charged with soliciting sex on the Internet from someone he thought to be a 13-year-old girl. Defense attorneys learned of the informer's real name, and that she had a criminal history, after the testimony.

Cox said she allowed the testimony under the false name to protect the informer from the informer's ex-husband. But the disclosure prompted the federal judge to dismiss the charges and to conclude Cox had committed intentional misconduct.

Cox spent 12 years as a state prosecutor before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in May 1997.

In 1999 the Supreme Court accused her of crossing "the line of zealous advocacy by a wide margin" in a murder case.

The court said that Cox improperly told the jury about how her father had received a diagnosis of cancer but nevertheless served in the Persian Gulf War.

Cox equated her "father's noble sacrifice for his country with the jury's moral duty to sentence (the defendant) to death," the court said.

The defendant was granted a new trial, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

- Contact Graham Brink at (813) 226-3365.

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