U.S. Attorney John Brownlee for the Western District of Virginia, who was once placed on a Justice Department list of prosecutors to be fired, announced yesterday that he will step down next month and is mulling a run for state attorney general.
Last year Brownlee testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that in 2006 Michael Elston then chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty had called him on the eve of a guilty plea from Purdue Pharma, the maker of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, and urged him to slow down.
Brownlee ignored that suggestion and obtained a $635 million settlement from Purdue Pharma and guilty pleas from three executives to misdemeanor charges.
A week later, in November 2006, Brownlee’s name appeared on a list of prosecutors to consider firing. Ultimately, Brownlee was not terminated, and he scored another victory last year: a $100 million settlement with defense contractor ITT Corp. in an arms export control case involving sensitive technology transferred to China.
A Republican, Brownlee told reporters at a news conference Thursday that he plans to practice law somewhere in Roanoke, Va., for the time being before deciding whether to run for attorney general, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.