Judge OKs house ar­rest study for Kane

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> A Mont­gomery County judge has ap­proved a house ar­rest suit­abil­ity study for for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane who faces sen­tenc­ing next week for per­jury and abuse of power con­vic­tions.

Judge Wendy Dem­chick-Al­loy, at the re­quest of Kane’s lawyers, on Mon­day ap­proved Kane’s re­quest for the house ar­rest as­sess­ment and or­dered county pro­ba­tion of­fi­cials to com­plete that study and sub­mit it to her no later than Oct. 21. Kane faces a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing Oct. 24.

Kane, 50, a first-term Demo­crat and the first woman ever to be elected to the state post,

faces a pos­si­ble max­i­mum sen­tence of 14 to 28 years in state prison on felony charges of per­jury and mis­de­meanor charges of ob­struct­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of law, of­fi­cial op­pres­sion, false swear­ing and con­spir­acy when she’s sen­tenced by Dem­chick-Al­loy.

State sen­tenc­ing guide­lines could al­low for less jail time for Kane, who has no crim­i­nal record.

In court pa­pers, de­fense lawyer Marc R. Stein­berg, re­fer­ring to state sen­tenc­ing guide­lines, said the felony per­jury charge calls for a sen­tence rang­ing from pro­ba­tion to nine months and sug­gested house ar­rest would be an ap­pro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment for Kane.

Stein­berg, a lo­cal lawyer who was hired to rep­re­sent Kane only for the sen­tenc­ing phase of her case, ar­gued state law al­lows for house ar­rest as an al­ter­na­tive, ap­pro­pri­ate form of pun­ish­ment for non­vi­o­lent of­fend­ers. He said the sen­tenc­ing op­tion is avail­able “to make the of­fender more ac­count­able to the com­mu­nity and to help re­duce the county jail over­crowd­ing prob­lem while main­tain­ing public safety.”

Stein­berg claimed Kane is a non-vi­o­lent of­fender with no prior record and a low risk of re­cidi­vism and the pri­mary care­giver for two mi­nor chil­dren and there­fore is an ap­pro­pri­ate can­di­date for house ar­rest.

How­ever, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele ar­gued house ar­rest would be “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” for Kane and had asked the judge not to ap­prove the house ar­rest suit­abil­ity study.

Steele ar­gued house ar­rest is a sel­dom used sen­tenc­ing al­ter­na­tive gen­er­ally re­served for de­fen­dants who suf­fer from se­ri­ous, de­bil­i­tat­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions or who care for a per­son with this type of con­di­tion and that Kane has no such con­di­tion.

Steele also ar­gued that dur­ing a pre­sen­tence in­ter­view by court of­fi­cials Kane re­ported she shares fifty-fifty cus­tody of her chil­dren with her for­mer hus­band and that be­cause there is another par­ent with equal cus­tody of the chil­dren, the child care­giver fac­tor should not weigh in fa­vor of house ar­rest.

If Kane, a for­mer Lack­awanna County pros­e­cu­tor who was elected at­tor­ney gen­eral in 2012 and was con­sid­ered a ris­ing star among Democrats, is ul­ti­mately given a house ar­rest sen­tence, her case could be trans­ferred to Lack­awanna County, Stein­berg sug­gested. Stein­berg claimed Lack­awanna County Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cials are will­ing to su­per­vise Kane on house ar­rest.

Kane was con­victed by a jury in Au­gust of charges she or­ches­trated the il­le­gal dis­clo­sure of se­cret grand jury in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia and en­gaged in acts de­signed to cover up her con­duct. Kane re­signed her post two days later and has re­mained free on own re­cog­ni­zance bail while await­ing sen­tenc­ing.

Kane’s trial lawyer Ger­ald L. Shargel hinted at an ap­peal, say­ing Kane’s de­fense team would “fight to the end.”

Kane did not tes­tify at trial.

At trial, Steele and co­pros­e­cu­tor Michelle Henry al­leged Kane or­ches­trated the il­le­gal re­lease of se­cret ma­te­ri­als per­tain­ing to the 2009 statewide grand jury No. 29 to a re­porter in or­der to ex­act “re­venge” on a for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor with whom she was feud­ing.

Kane also was con­victed of ly­ing to the 35th statewide grand jury in Novem­ber 2014 to cover up her leaks by ly­ing un­der oath when she claimed she never agreed to main­tain her se­crecy re­gard­ing the 2009 grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Pros­e­cu­tors said they dis­cov­ered ev­i­dence that Kane signed a so-called “se­crecy oath” on her sec­ond day in of­fice on Jan. 17, 2013, promis­ing her se­crecy for statewide in­ves­ti­gat­ing grand ju­ries one through 32. The oath com­pelled Kane to main­tain the se­crecy of all mat­ters oc­cur­ring be­fore past and present statewide grand ju­ries, pros­e­cu­tors al­leged.

Kane claimed she did noth­ing wrong and has im­plied the charges were part of an ef­fort to force her out of of­fice be­cause she dis­cov­ered porno­graphic emails be­ing ex­changed be­tween state em­ploy­ees on state email ad­dresses.

How­ever, a judge ruled Kane could not raise the porno­graphic email de­fense at trial. De­fense lawyers hinted that might be the ba­sis for an even­tual ap­peal.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane speaks with mem­bers of the me­dia after her ar­range­ment be­fore a dis­trict judge, Oct. 1, 2015, in Col­legeville. A Mont­gomery County judge re­cently ap­proved a house ar­rest suit­abil­ity study for Kane.

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