Ex-AG Kane faces up to 23 months in jail for per­jury

Judge: State’s for­mer top law en­forcer ‘un­der­mined the in­tegrity of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem’

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

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Find­ing for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane’s ac­tions were “de­lib­er­ate, cal­cu­lated and venge­ful,” a judge im­posed a jail sen­tence against the one­time top law en­forcer on per­jury and abuse of power charges.

“When per­jury oc­curs it’s the ul­ti­mate as­sault on the ju­di­cial sys­tem,” Mont­gomery County Judge Wendy Dem­chick-Al­loy said Mon­day as she sen­tenced Kane to 10 to 23 months in the county jail. “This de­fen­dant, the chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cial in Penn­syl­va­nia, with her hand on the Bi­ble ... un­der­mined the in­tegrity of the court sys­tem, the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, which she iron­i­cally orig­i­nally swore to pro­tect and de­fend.

“This case is about the oath, the sanc­tity of the oath as the back­bone of our ju­di­cial sys­tem. With­out the oath, we have noth­ing,” Dem­chick-Al­loy added.

With an ad­di­tional eight years of pro­ba­tion, Kane will be un- For­mer Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane ar­rives at the Mont­gomery County Court­house for her sched­uled sen­tenc­ing hear­ing in Nor­ris­town Mon­day.

der court su­per­vi­sion for 10 years.

Kane, 50, a for­mer Lack­awanna County pros­e­cu­tor who was elected at­tor­ney gen­eral in 2012 and once was con­sid­ered a ris­ing star among Democrats, stood stone-faced as she learned her fate.

Mont­gomery County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele, who ar­gued for time be­hind bars for Kane, said the jail term is “sig­nif­i­cant” and sends a strong mes­sage.

“I think this is im­por­tant, that no­body is above the law. It was dif­fi­cult on the re­sources of the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate the chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer of the state. We man­aged to do that through the hard work of many peo­ple and what’s clear from this is that no­body is above the law,” Steele said af­ter­ward.

Kane’s lawyer, Marc Robert Stein­berg, asked the judge to al­low Kane to re­main free on bail pend­ing an ap­peal of her con­vic­tion, cit­ing a law that al­lows bail, un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, for those sen­tenced to terms un­der two years.

“She is not a flight risk. She’s not go­ing any­where. She’s no dan­ger to the com­mu­nity,” said Stein­berg, who had ar­gued for a sen­tence of pro­ba­tion or house ar­rest for Kane.

The bail re­quest was op­posed by Steele and co­pros­e­cu­tor Michelle Henry.

In the end, the judge in­creased Kane’s bail to $75,000 cash and Kane was taken by sher­iff’s deputies in hand­cuffs to the county jail. Kane’s fam­ily was ex­pected to post that bail later Mon­day evening.

On Aug. 15, Kane, the first Demo­crat and the first wo­man ever elected at­tor­ney gen­eral, was con­victed of charges of per­jury, ob­struct­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of law, of­fi­cial op­pres­sion, false swear­ing and con­spir­acy. The jury de­ter­mined she or­ches­trated the il­le­gal dis­clo­sure of se­cret grand jury in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia and then en­gaged in acts de­signed to con­ceal and cover up her con­duct. Steele and Henry al­leged Kane did so to ex­act “re­venge” on a for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor with whom she was feud­ing.

“What I strug­gle with here, is she knew bet­ter. She knew bet­ter,” Steele ar­gued. “But know­ing bet­ter didn’t mat­ter when it came to re­tal­i­a­tion, when it came to vin­dic­tive­ness.”

“What this de­fen­dant did was dis­grace­ful. She put her own de­sire for per­sonal re­venge above ev­ery­thing else, above the ci­ti­zens of this state, above the hard­work­ing pros­e­cu­tors and the staff of the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice. Ev­ery­body de­served bet­ter,” Henry added. “To­day, when she was taken out of the court­room in hand­cuffs there was fi­nally jus­tice and I’m happy to see that this ugly chap­ter for Penn­syl­va­nia has fi­nally con­cluded.”

Kane re­signed from her post two days af­ter her con­vic­tion.

Dem­chick-Al­loy said Kane’s con­duct was “de­lib­er­ate, cal­cu­lated and venge­ful” and was “an ex­tra­or­di­nary abuse of the sys­tem.” The judge said Kane ran her of­fice with a “Don’t cross me or else” at­ti­tude, caus­ing “fear and dis­may” within the agency.

“This case is about ego, ego of a politi­cian con­sumed by her im­age from day one,” Dem­chick-Al­loy added.

Be­fore learn­ing her fate, Kane, at times ap­pear­ing tear­ful, ad­dressed the court.

“I re­ally don’t care what hap­pens to me. I don’t care about me any­more. I have al­ways been a mother first,” Kane, now a con­victed felon, ad­dressed Dem­chick-Al­loy, ex­plain­ing she feared a prison term that would separate her from her two teenage sons.

Ear­lier, Kane’s 15-yearold son, Christo­pher, told the judge, “We just know we can’t lose our mom. My mom’s like my rock. She’s there for me, for ev­ery­body. For her to leave me would be bad.”

Other sup­port­ers of Kane who begged the judge to show mercy, de­scribed her as “hard­work­ing, pro­fes­sional, com­pas­sion­ate,” a wo­man who was ded­i­cated to the peo­ple she was elected to rep­re­sent.

But two of Kane’s for­mer co­work­ers said the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of their leader “was like a poi­sonous cloud over every corner of the of­fice” and claimed that through things such as fir­ings of agents who she saw as dis­loyal “she cre­ated a ter­ror zone in this of­fice.”

“It was like danc­ing on a trap door,” one for­mer agent tes­ti­fied.

The for­mer co­work­ers said the scan­dal hurt the rep­u­ta­tion of the state of­fice among other law en­force­ment agen­cies.

“There were vic­tims. There were scars,” Steele ar­gued.

In her state­ment, Kane ap­peared to apol­o­gize for the sit­u­a­tion to the state’s ci­ti­zens and the em­ploy­ees of the of­fice she once helmed. How­ever, she did not specif­i­cally ad­dress the charges nor ad­mit guilt.

Kane’s lead trial lawyer Ger­ald L. Shargel pre­vi­ously hinted at an ap­peal and vowed to “fight to the end.” How­ever, it was un­clear Mon­day if Shargel would con­tinue to rep­re­sent Kane dur­ing any ap­pel­late process.

Stein­berg, who rep­re­sented Kane only dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing phase of her case, ar­gued for le­niency on be­half of Kane, say­ing sen­tenc­ing guide­lines al­lowed for pro­ba­tion.

“Please con­sider the good this wo­man has done in her life­time,” Stein­berg ar­gued, cit­ing sev­eral of Kane’s ac­com­plish­ments, adding, she has al­ready been pun­ished by los­ing her law li­cense and her job and suf­fer­ing “public shame.” “There is also a real con­cern for her safety if in­car­cer­ated.”

At trial, Steele and Henry said Kane or­ches­trated the il­le­gal re­lease of se­cret ma­te­ri­als to a re­porter in or­der to ex­act “re­venge” on a for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor with whom she was feud­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued Kane’s quest for re­venge took root on March 16, 2014, when she read a Philadel­phia In­quirer ar­ti­cle that was “crit­i­cal” of her for fail­ing to pur­sue crim­i­nal charges against some Philadel­phia politi­cians and for shut­ting down that sting op­er­a­tion which was led by a for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor, Frank Fina.

At trial, wit­nesses tes­ti­fied Kane be­lieved Fina was re­spon­si­ble for the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

To re­tal­i­ate against Fina, Steele and Henry al­leged, Kane or­ches­trated the re­lease to a re­porter of a memo, emails and the tran­script of an in­ter­view per­tain­ing to the 2009 In­ves­ti­gat­ing Grand Jury No. 29, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that cen­tered on a Philadel­phia civil rights of­fi­cial, which Fina su­per­vised and then didn’t pur­sue charges. Pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued the civil rights of­fi­cial, who was never charged with any crime, was harmed by the re­lease of the grand jury in­for­ma­tion.

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.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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