Monday, August 15, 2016

PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty on all counts

Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty on all counts (Inquirer photo Jessica Griffin) 












Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was convicted Monday of perjury, obstruction and other crimes after squandering her once bright political future on an illegal vendetta against an enemy.


Four years after Kane's election in a landslide as the first Democrat and first woman elected attorney general, a jury of six men and six women found her guilty of all charges: two counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor counts of abusing the powers of her office.


Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele persuaded the jurors that Kane orchestrated the illegal leak of secret grand jury documents to plant a June 2014 story critical of her nemesis, former state prosecutor Frank Fina. Kane then lied about her actions under oath, the jury found.


Kane, 50, who rose from a hard-scrabble upbringing in Scranton to win a statewide post in her first bid for office, showed little emotion as the verdict was read. Her twin sister Ellen Granahan was with her in court.


The jury deliberated for 4 1/2 hours before pronouncing Kane's guilt in a verdict that her lawyer Gerald Shargel called "a crushing blow." He vowed to appeal. Shargel said no decision had been made about whether Kane would resign from office. Gov. Wolf, who had called for Kane to resign after her arrest, said Monday night that she should now do so immediately.


Kane, for her part, left the courtroom without addressing reporters. Steele called the jury's decision just. "We had somebody who felt that she was above the law," he the attorney general.


Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy ordered Kane to surrender her passport by noon Tuesday. The judge barred her from retaliating against witnesses in the case and said if she did so, she would be jailed.


Kane sought revenge agains Fina because she believed he was the source for a March 2014 Inquirer story reporting that she had secretly shut down an undercover sting operation that had caught Philadelphia officials on tape accepting cash. Fina, for many years the head of corruption cases for the Attorney General's Office, launched the sting before Kane took office.


Michelle Henry, who joined Steele in presenting the prosecution case, painted Kane as heedless of the law as she carried out her crimes.


"She knew it was wrong, she knew it was against the law, and she didn't care," Henry told the jury. "She did it for revenge. And after that happened, she covered it up with lies."


As Kane fought with Fina, their war kept spreading to new fronts. In a feud that riveted the state's legal and political communities, Kane and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams - both Democrats and the state's two top law enforcement officials - became enemies.


Williams, who hired Fina as a city proseutor after he left the state payroll, ended up resurrecting the sting investigation. At last count, five defendants - four former state legislators and a former president judge of Philadelphia Traffic Court - had pleaded guilty or no-contest to corruption charges.


Williams accused Kane of erroneously suggesting that race played a role in the selection of targets in the investigation.


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