Kane, ‘fallen from grace,’ seeks probation for perjury
NORRISTOWN >> Saying Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane already has “fallen from grace,” suffered the loss of her career and carries the “stigma of a convicted felon,” her lawyer has asked a judge not to add to the punishment by incarcerating her for perjury and abuse of power convictions.
“Ms. Kane has, without question, fallen from grace. Ms. Kane has been a valued and contributing member of this Bar and now will always carry the stigma of a convicted felon,” defense lawyer Marc R. Steinberg wrote in court papers Tuesday, arguing “traditional incarceration” is not necessary to protect society, to achieve rehabilitative goals, nor deter any future criminal conduct by Kane.
In a 107-page sentencing memorandum filed in Montgomery County Court, Steinberg argued a probationary sentence, or in the alternative, house arrest, would be appropriate punishments for Kane, 50, a first-term Democrat and the first woman ever to be elected to the state post, who was convicted by a jury in August of felony charges of perjury and misdemeanor charges of obstructing administration of law, official oppression, false swearing and conspiracy.
“Due to the fact that Ms. Kane previously served as attorney general, a sentence of incarceration represents a potential risk to her safety as she could be incarcerated with individuals she prosecuted,” Steinberg wrote. “In the event the court feels that a probationary sentence is not appropriate in this case, a county sentence served on house arrest would be more restrictive than probation while also taking this potential risk into consideration.”
The memorandum was submitted to Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy in prepara-
tion for Kane’s Oct. 24 sentencing hearing.
District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, in his memorandum filed Monday, indicated he will seek state prison time against Kane, and that probation or house arrest would be “inappropriate.”
Earlier this week, Demchick-Alloy approved Kane’s request for a house arrest suitability study in preparation for sentencing.
Kane faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison on the charges. But state sentencing guidelines could allow for less jail time for Kane, who has no criminal record.
In his sweeping memorandum, Steinberg offered a biographical snapshot of Kane’s rise in political circles,
her achievements, her charitable activities and her family life while raising two sons. Steinberg also outlined Kane’s fall — her conviction, her resignation as attorney general, the suspension of her law license and her potential disbarment.
“She has lost the ability to continue a career that she loved, one to which she has aspired since the age of 6, and one in which she was able to accomplish a significant amount of good. She has been humbled and embarrassed, and now just wants to make amends and to focus her attention on raising her children,” Steinberg said.
Included in the court documents were numerous letters of support from Kane’s relatives, friends, former colleagues and clergy, many of whom wrote that Kane’s separation from her sons “would have a profoundly
negative impact on their lives.” The letter writers, who sought leniency for Kane, described her as a compassionate, caring and hardworking woman who is committed to her family and community and who accomplished much good despite the conduct reflected in her conviction.
Kane’s refusal to defend Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban, her creation of a mobile street crimes unit and her expansion of the attorney general’s child predator section were accomplishments cited by Steinberg.
“She rose from poverty to a pinnacle, and she has already fallen,” Steinberg wrote. “This overview of Kathleen Kane’s life shows a life dedicated to merciful acts. She now asks for mercy in return.”
Steinberg, a local lawyer who was hired to represent Kane only for the sentencing phase of her
case, argued Kane’s sentence should not be aggravated just because she was attorney general at the time of the offenses. Steinberg added Kane should not be sentenced more harshly for exercising her constitutional right to a jury by trial.
“The circumstances surrounding the offenses for which Ms. Kane was convicted after 50 years of productive life surely reflect that she can be rehabilitated without the need for imprisonment and that she is unlikely to reoffend,” Steinberg wrote. “She feels deep regret that she has violated the trust of the citizens of Pennsylvania when serving as their attorney general and respects the decision reached by the jury.”
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.