Kathleen Kane, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, has been convicted of nine criminal charges, including criminal conspiracy and perjury, after leaking sensitive information from a grand jury and subsequently lying about it.
At the hearng Monday, revelations surfaced that Kane leaked the information in an attempt to humiliate Frank Fina, a rival prosecutor.
Kane accused Fina of informing the Philadelphia Inquirer about a sting operation that Kane killed due to incriminating evidence against Philadelphia officials. Kane apparently wanted revenge against Fina, but violated the law in the process, according to Montgomery County District Attorney (DA) Kevin R. Steele.
The case was first accepted in April, 2015, after the grand jury dealing with Kane’s case found that her testimony was “riddled with inconsistencies,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The grand jury found that Kane planted a newspaper story to damage the reputation of a critic and then lied about it when questioned by authorities.
“The attorney general continues to believe the information that she authorized to be released was not covered by grand jury secrecy,” Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Kane, said last year. Kane admitted that she released certain documents, but contended she did not violate the law.
The grand jury sent the case to then-Montgomery County DA Risa Vetri Ferman with a recommendation that she charge Kane with perjury and official oppression.
DA Ferman and Attorney General Kane were the first women ever elected to their respective positions. Kane, who ran on a platform of cracking down on corruption, said that much of the accusations are politically motivated since she is the first elected Democrat to the post, according to the USA Today, and Ferman is a Republican.
Kane’s lawyer Gerald Shargel did not call any witnesses to stand on the defense’s behalf, not even Kane.
Shargel doesn’t regret not calling any witness. It’s a tried and true legal strategy, he says.
— Wallace McKelvey (@wjmckelvey) August 16, 2016
Kane listened to the jury’s verdict with very little emotion. The maximum punishment for just the two felony perjury charges are 7 years each, according to The New York Times.
Because Kane is officially convicted for actions that likely stemmed from revenge, Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy, who was presiding over the case, provided Kane with a serious ultimatum while she is currently free on bail.
“There is to be absolutely no retaliation of any kind against any witness in this case, either by your own devices, from your own mouth or your hand, or directing anybody to do anything,” Demchick-Alloy stressed. “Is that clear, Ms Kane?” the judge asked, according to The New York Times.
“Yes it is, your honor,” Ms. Kane said.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released an official statement from the capital of Harrisburg imploring “Attorney General Kane to do what is right: put the commonwealth’s residents first and step down from office.” Kane, who is not legally forced to relinquish her post until the sentencing, has no plans of stepping down.
Both Steele and Wolf believe that this is a “sad day for the commonwealth.”
(The author of this piece is a former intern for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Pennsylvania)
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