Career prosecutor named acting US attorney in Los Angeles

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A career federal prosecutor was named acting head of the regional U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles after dozens of top prosecutors nationwide were asked to resign, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Sandra R. Brown took over Saturday as acting U.S. attorney for the Central District of California the day after Eileen Decker resigned.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly asked Decker and 45 other U.S. attorneys to resign Friday. U.S. attorneys are nominated by the president and usually leave office when a new president is in office, but departures are not automatic.

Decker served less than two years after being picked for the post by President Barack Obama.

Under her direction, prosecutors sought to get Apple Inc. to help the FBI hack a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terror attack shooters. The high-stakes case between law enforcement and big technology in a battle over national security and privacy never went to a much-anticipated hearing after the FBI paid a company to break into the phone.

Prosecutors in the office convicted the man who provided the guns used in the December 2015 attack that killed 14 people. Three family members of the shooters were also convicted of immigration fraud for arranging a sham marriage to the gun buyer.

Decker oversaw the final prosecutions in a long-running investigation into corruption in the Los Angeles County jails that led to 20 convictions, including the second-in-command, and indictments against former Sheriff Lee Baca.

Decker was in court last month to listen to prosecutors present opening statements in the retrial of Baca on charges he obstructed an FBI investigation into corruption in the jails he ran.

The first trial ended in December with a hung jury that was leaning 11-1 for acquittal. The jury in the retrial was to resume deliberations Wednesday.

Brown was Decker's top assistant overseeing federal prosecutors in seven counties along the coast from San Luis Obispo to Orange County and inland to Riverside and San Bernardino.

Brown was the longtime head of the office's tax division before Decker promoted her to first assistant last year. She joined the office in 1991.

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