State’s Attorney’s Office fires prosecutor amid Gun Trace Task Force controversy, lawyers call shenanigans
Anna Mantegna, a veteran prosecutor in the State’s Attorney’s Office, has been fired in what her attorney calls “a smear campaign” designed to make her appear to be the SAO insider who leaked information to the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF).
GTTF leader Wayne Jenkins said he was tipped off to the investigation of another officer by someone in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, setting off fevered speculation in the city about who the rogue prosecutor might be and calls for the SAO to address the leak.
Word spread through the legal community on Wednesday that Mantegna was fired in what many lawyers said is an attempt to make it seem like they had eliminated the leak.
The SAO’s spokesperson Melba Saunders confirmed that Mantegna was no longer with the office in an emailed statement. But Saunders stressed that in confirming that Mantegna no longer worked there, she was not addressing any questions about a relationship with the GTTF: “The [United States Attorney’s Office] has shared components of its GTTF investigation with our office and we are not at liberty to comment. All questions pertaining to the investigation should be directed to the USAO.”
When reached for comment, Latoya Francis-Williams, who is advising Mantegna (who would not comment) said that Mantegna was wrongfully terminated and is being disingenuously floated as the alleged attorney who leaked information to the GTTF.
“This, sadly, is a thinly veiled effort to give the appearance that this was the leak,” Francis-Williams said. “And everyone knows, in that office, that she absolutely is not—including Ms. Mosby.”
Francis-Williams said that no reason was given for the termination.
“She was only provided a copy of her most recent assessment which demonstrated that she is a stellar prosecutor, simply rave reviews,” Francis-WIlliams said. “And so it really leaves us drawing one conclusion. They are trying to use her as a political football.”
Mosby, who is up for re-election, has been widely criticized by defense attorneys for allegedly ignoring information about the GTTF’s crimes. One of those lawyers, Ivan Bates, who held a press conference with numerous victims of the task force on Feb. 2, and is running for state’s attorney against Mosby, praised Mantegna.
“I had a number of cases with Mantegna,” Bates said. “She was a good lawyer, she was fair. When I had cases involving officers who had done illegal things I could talk to her and she was one of the prosecutors who I knew would dismiss those cases.”
“To lose a person like that concerns me,” Bates continued, noting that more than 90 prosecutors have left the SAO during Mosby’s term. “I was calling for an independent investigation outside of the State’s Attorney’s Office into the issues, and if that didn’t happen then it’s definitely all about politics.”
Frances-Williams said there will be a press conference to address the issue in coming days.
“We believe we have enough text messages and email between . . . the upper management of the State’s Attorney’s Office to demonstrate this is no more than smear campaign.”