Unsealed Records Give New Details About Kane Investigation

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Judge rejects Pennsylvania attorney general’s porn defense.

HARRISBURG, Pa. HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane will not suspend a senior aide who is charged with illegally trying to monitor a criminal investigation into her, her spokesman said Tuesday.NORRISTOWN, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s attorney general was ordered Monday to stand trial on charges she leaked secret grand jury information to embarrass a rival prosecutor after a judge rejected her lawyer’s contention that she had another way of humiliating him: pornography.

— Pennsylvania court officials are releasing about a thousand pages of records from an investigation that recently produced criminal charges against the state’s attorney general. Patrick Reese will remain on the job, the spokesman said, despite an internal policy that requires suspension after an employee has been charged with criminal conduct related to their employment with the state. Kane, a Democrat, allegedly targeted Frank Fina, then a high-profile state prosecutor who had worked under Kane’s predecessor as attorney general, Republican Tom Corbett, before Corbett was elected governor. Kathleen Kane, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general in the state, did not speak as she left a suburban Philadelphia courthouse flanked by bodyguards and a crush of reporters and photographers.

The documents made public Wednesday include scores of emailed images of nude or scantily clad women, some involving sexual acts, sent by former employees of the attorney general’s office. Kane’s office decided that the allegations against Reese did not rise to the level of a suspension and that office policy never envisioned this kind of situation, spokesman Chuck Ardo said. “They determined that the policy as written never envisioned an alleged violation such as the one in this case, which involves accessing a computer in violation of the rules,” Ardo said. While she failed in her bid to have the charges dismissed, Kane did claim one victory Monday, when photographers hoping to get a shot of her walking into court were duped in spectacular fashion. Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel raised Kane’s knowledge of the explicit emails near the end of the evidence hearing, saying exposing former prosecutor Frank Fina’s “disgraceful conduct” would have been an easier way to retaliate against him. Montgomery County prosecutors charged Reese with criminal contempt on Aug. 6, the same day they charged Kane with perjury, obstruction and other charges.

Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar warned Shargel that he was “far afield” in invoking pornography — a central theme of Kane’s public defense — because prosecutors had not delved into motive during the hearing. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows more than half of Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Kane’s handling of her job as state attorney general and nearly as many think she should resign. Reese is accused of violating a Montgomery County judge’s protective order by searching the attorney general’s office email archive for information about a court-ordered grand jury probe last year into allegations Kane leaked investigative information to a newspaper. Kane, 49, is also charged with lying under oath about the alleged leak, ordering aides to illegally snoop through computer files to keep tabs on the investigation into it and harming the reputation of a former civil rights leader who was named in the leaked documents. Wolf’s comments precede the planned resumption Tuesday of talks on an 8-week-old budget stalemate that has shut off funding to schools and a range of safety-net services.

Monday’s hearing was the latest chapter in the saga of Frank Fina and Kathleen Kane, which has all the pettiness and backstabbing that one expects from a good state-politics feud. Morgan Culbertson, 20, sold the malware on Darkode.com, an a cybercriminal marketplace where hackers bought, sold and traded products designed to cripple or illegally control cellphones and computers. Kane declined in 2014 to prosecute Democratic Pennsylvania lawmakers accused of taking bribes in a sting case Fina put together, with Kane implying that Fina was motivated by racism to target Black Caucus members.

Meanwhile, Kane said Tuesday that her office may not fight open-records requests to release more details about pornographic emails discovered on state computers. Kane sat quietly at the defense table as a prosecutor outlined how she allegedly passed a transcript and memorandum related to a 2009 grand jury investigation to Philadelphia Daily News reporter Chris Brennan through Josh Morrow, a political consultant who had helped elect her three years ago. During Monday’s preliminary hearing, Kane’s attorney Gerald Shargel argued that media scrutiny of Mondesire’s leadership at the NAACP had already destroyed his reputation before Kane had a chance to. “You can’t destroy it a second time,” Shargel said, according to the Morning Call. Focusing on the perjury charge, prosecutors contrasted remarks Kane made about the sanctity of grand jury proceedings as a county prosecutor in 1999 with her testimony to the leak grand jury last November. “It is a secret process, and for me to give out any information to somebody who is not going into the grand jury is actually a criminal offense,” Kane said in 1999, according to transcripts read in court. Prosecutors called his contention that a person previously accused of wrongdoing couldn’t be further disparaged “absurd.” Shargel further claimed that if Kane had been out to discredit Fina, who now works for the Philadelphia district attorney, she didn’t need to accuse him of dropping the ball in prosecuting Mondesire.

A chain of “X-rated” office emails Kane discovered during an internal investigation into Fina’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky molestation case, Shargel said, had provided a much easier option: “The attorney general knew full well that Mr. Fina had a pornography collection of thousands and thousands of images, inappropriate statements, misogynist points of view and disgraceful conduct,” [Shargel] said. Challenging a conspiracy charge, he said there was “no suggestion that two people of a like criminal mind joined forces, joined ranks and entered into an agreement.” Shargel argued accusations Kane used her position to smear Philadelphia NAACP head J.

Kane’s driver, former Dunmore, Pennsylvania police chief Patrick Reese, is due in court in early September on charges that he snooped in grand jury files to report back to Kane on which of her subordinates had been cooperating in the current investigation against her. Shargel, who once represented New York City mobsters, contended that Mondesire already lost his reputation when articles dating to 2010 alleged issues with his finances. Detective Paul Bradbury, who investigated Kane, said the leak caused Mondesire “great personal distress and distress to his family” and forced him to close his charity when donations dried up after the newspaper story appeared. Kane has said that releasing the pornographic emails exchanged by office employees is crucial to her defense strategy, but her office said last week it has concerns that disclosing them could be perceived as retaliating against witnesses in the criminal case against her. The email scandal, which surfaced last summer, resulted in six firings, 23 reprimands and two high-profile resignations, including a state Supreme Court judge.

Some involved, Kane said, “have tried desperately to ensure that these emails, and more importantly their attachment to it, never see the light of day.”

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