Former AG Kathleen Kane began jail time in 2018
NORRISTOWN >> Disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Granahan Kane’s attempts to avoid time behind bars for her 2016 perjury conviction ended in November when a state court tossed her appeal and a judge ordered her to report to jail.
Kane, 52, whose legal woes played out in a Montgomery County courtroom and dominated headlines both locally and statewide for more than two years, reported to the county jail in Lower Providence on Nov. 29 to begin serving a 10-to-23-month sentence in connection with her August 2016 conviction of charges 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.
Kane’s life behind bars is a stark contrast to the life she once led as the first Democrat and the first woman ever elected attorney general. Instead of holding news conferences announcing arrests in high-profile state prosecutions and attending meetings with state legislators, Kane’s typical daily schedule as an inmate at the county jail now includes lunch before noon, dinner at 4:30 p.m. and lights out at 10 p.m.
When Kane surrendered to county authorities last month, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said her incarceration sent a message that “no one is above the law” and said it closed an “unfortunate chapter for the people of Pennsylvania.”
“As the jail door shuts her in, a strong message is being sent that no one is above the law. No one. Not even the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth,” Steele said in a prepared statement, just hours after Kane surrendered to authorities.
Steele added, “justice has finally been served.”
Steele said Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor who was elected attorney general in 2012, not only abused her power to serve a personal vendetta, she committed criminal acts by disclosing secret grand jury and investigative information and then gave false testimony under oath to try and cover up what she had done.
In May, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld Kane’s conviction and sentence. On Nov 26, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided not to hear Kane’s most recent appeal, setting the stage for her to begin serving her sentence. After her conviction in 2016, Kane was permitted to remain free on bail pending the outcome of her state appeals.
Judge Wendy DemchickAlloy, on Nov. 27, ordered Kane to surrender to jail officials no later than 9 a.m. Nov. 29.
On Aug. 15, 2016, Kane, a mother of two teenage boys, was convicted of charges of perjury, obstructing administration of law, official oppression, false swearing and conspiracy. The jury determined Kane 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 co-prosecutor Michelle Henry argued Kane did so to exact “revenge” on a former state prosecutor with whom she was feuding.
At trial, 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 a sting operation which was led by a former state prosecutor, Frank Fina.
During the 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.
Kane resigned from her post two days after her conviction.
At Kane’s Oct. 24, 2016, sentencing hearing, Steele and Henry sought prison time against the onetime rising political star.
“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.
In her appeals, Kane cited nine allegations of trial error, including the denial of her pretrial motion to recuse all county judges from hearing her trial based on her contention that Judges William R. Carpenter, Carolyn T. Carluccio and Risa Vetri Ferman had close ties to the investigation surrounding her.
Kane’s unsuccessful appeals also challenged the denial of her pretrial request to dismiss the case due to “selective and vindictive prosecution.”
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 G. Kane leaves a Montgomery County Courtroom after a 2016 court proceeding. On Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to revoke bail for Kane, who was convicted of perjury in 2016, now that she has exhausted her state appeals.