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Denise E. O'Donnell was appointed interim U.S. attorney Friday by Attorney General Janet Reno.

She succeeds Patrick H. NeMoyer, who resigned this week to return to private law practice until his election to State Supreme Court in November. She was first assistant U.S. attorney through NeMoyer's four-year tenure and is considered a top contender for permanent appointment as Western New York's chief federal prosecutor.

Considered a plum in the legal profession, the post will be filled by President Clinton following the recommendation of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y.

Ms. O'Donnell was honored Friday in Washington by the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys for "enhancing the missions" of the executive office and U.S. attorney's offices around the nation.

She joined the U.S. attorney's office in 1985. She was appellate chief before becoming NeMoyer's first assistant in June 1993.

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