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 under 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 co-prosecutor 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 KANE SENT TO JAIL
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.
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 did not testify at her trial.
However, throughout the investigation, Kane claimed she did nothing wrong and 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.
Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaves court in handcuffs after her sentencing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown Monday. Kane was sentenced to 10-to-23 months in county prison and eight years probation. In August, Kane was found guilty of felony perjury and an assortment of misdemeanors related to a leak of secret grand jury materials.