There have been few clues as to Paul Fishman’s plans for key posts in the U.S. Attorney’s office after he takes the oath tomorrow morning. For the time being, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra will return to his old post as First Assistant (Marra took over when Christopher Christie resigned on December 1), and Marc Larkins, who became Acting First Assistant following Michelle Brown’s departure, will be the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. Larkins has held both posts since Brown left last month.
Fishman is not expected to make any immediate announcements regarding key personnel, but new U.S. Attorneys typically assemble their own team. That may or may not affect Marra, a career federal prosecutor.
Eight years ago, the appointment of a First Assistant U.S. Attorney was part of the deal to convince then-U.S. Senators Robert Torricelli and Jon Corzine, to sign off on Christie’s nomination. Torricelli and Corzine reportedly insisted that they have input on the selection of Christie’s second in command.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Walter Timpone – one of Marra’s closest friends — was widely expected to get the First Assistant post; he was the one Torricelli and Corzine (mostly Torricelli; Corzine was a freshman) had been pushing. He also became Christie’s choice, and the new U.S. Attorney went to Washington to lobby on his behalf. But Timpone’s chances faded after FBI surveillance revealed that while acting as the defense attorney for former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, who had allegedly been recruited by federal prosecutors to be a witness against Torricelli, was visiting Torricelli at his home. There was a feeling that Timpone had tipped off the senior Senator, and while he avoided prosecution for tampering, his prospects of becoming First Assistant were over.
Sources say that the current U.S. Senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, have not made to requests to be involved in Fishman’s staff selection.