160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – The White House plans to nominate Thomas P. O’Brien, a career prosecutor, as the new U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, according to a Democratic Senate aide with knowledge of the decision. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not yet public, said Tuesday that the announcement is expected this week. O’Brien, who declined comment, had been viewed as the leading candidate for the job. A Republican and former naval officer, he has been chief of the office’s criminal division since 2000 and before that worked in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office’s hardcore gang division. If approved by the Senate, O’Brien would fill the vacancy created when Debra Wong Yang resigned last October to go into private practice. Yang was not among the eight U.S. attorneys whose firings last year have turned into a controversy for the Justice Department and has said she left of her own accord. But Democrats have questioned the circumstances of her departure. She left while her office was investigating a powerful Republican, Rep. Jerry Lewis of Redlands, and then she went to work for the firm representing him, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Officials with the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office and with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher have denied any connection and said Yang recused herself properly in the matter. O’Brien’s appointment would still leave California with two of its four U.S. attorney positions unfilled. The other vacancies are in San Diego and San Francisco, where U.S. attorneys Carol Lam and Kevin Ryan were dumped in the mass dismissals last year. In San Diego, interim U.S. attorney Karen P. Hewitt could be made permanent.