Ex-Attorney General of Pennsylvania Imprisoned

      NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CN) — Kathleen Kane, the first woman and Democrat to be elected as Pennsylvania attorney general, left the court in handcuffs Monday after a judge ordered her to spend up to 23 months in prison for perjury.
     “You were trusted to enforce the law, not break it,” Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy told Kane at the conclusion of a roughly five-hour hearing today at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. “This is an extraordinary abuse of the system.”
     The sentence puts Kane behind bars for between 10 and 23 months, after which she will face another eight-year term of probation.
     “You’re on my watch for 10 years,” Judge Demchick-Alloy said.
     The court let 50-year-old Kane hug one of her sons before court officers led her away in handcuffs.
     Kane and her husband are still finalizing divorce proceedings she began in 2012. The couple had two children, but only one of the sons appeared for Kane’s sentencing today.
     In handing down the sentence, Judge Demchick-Alloy summed up the case as getting revenge and retaliation against prestigious enemies.
     “It’s about a politician who was consumed by ego and exploited her position,” the judge said, looking directly at Kane.
     Prosecutors showed at trial that Kane began leaking secret grand jury records during her second year in office, after her reputation was tarnished by a March 2014 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Demcick-Alloy noted that Kane was a novice politician who had been embarrassed in the press. She then leaked information and lied under oath about it.
     The judge attributed Kane’s downfall to having lost sight of her role as a public servant.
     “Your ego became your engine,” Demchick-Alloy told Kane.
     A jury convicted Kane back in August on all charges relating to leaks she engineered for political revenge. In addition to perjury, the court found Kane guilty of official oppression, obstruction of the administration of justice, conspiracy and false swearing.
     Kane’s attorneys vowed to appeal when she resigned two days after her conviction.
     Over the course of a trial that lasted roughly one week, prosecutors proved that Kane was so bent on revenge that she broke the law by leaking secret grand jury documents to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan about former state prosecutor Frank Fina’s handling of a 2009 investigation into Philadelphia civil rights leader J. Whyatt Mondesire.
     When prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate the leaks, Kane lied under oath.
     Several of the individuals from whom journalist Brennan sought comment — including Michael Mileroo, Fina, Marc Costanzo, William Davis, and members of the Office of Attorney General — appeared on the witness stand this summer with fingers pointed at Kane. Mondesire died in 2015.
     The jury took just one day to decide that the phone records, text messages and testimony all stacked up against Kane.
     Kane had faced a maximum sentence of 24 years. In asking for partial confinement, home confinement or even probation, her attorney today emphasized that Kane had “no criminal history.”
     Marc Steinberg, with the firm Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, primarily spoke for the defense this morning. Based in Colmar, Pa., Steinberg was joined by the New York attorney who led Kane’s trial, Gerald Shargel of Winston & Strawn.
     When Steinberg asked those in the audience supporting Kane to stand, roughly 50 rose in the coutroom.
     The attorney proceeded to read six out of the 31 letters written to the court on Kane’s behalf.
     In addition to family — Kane’s sons, a niece, a brother and her mom — a former police chief and friend of Kane’s from law school spoke to the defendant’s caliber as a person and an attorney.
     Because of Kane’s work, “there was good provided to very many people of the commonwealth,” Steinberg said.
     Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele saw it differently.
     “An elected official — out of the vindictive bad motives, for retaliation — injured people who had the right to their best reputation and a good life,” Steele said.
     “Law enforcement is an honorable profession where we make a difference in people’s lives,” Stele added. “It is honorable, and she dishonored this. … It is immeasurable what she has done.”
     Steel asked for consecutive sentences, calling perjury an affront to the fundamental cornerstone of the legal system. “We swear on a bible every time we enter the courtroom,” the prosecutor noted.
     Demchick referenced this point when she handed down her sentence after the afternoon recess.
     “This defendant with her hand on a bible undermined the integrity of the court system — ironically, the system that she swore to protect and defend,” Demchick-Alloy said.
     “Perjury is the ultimate assault on the judicial system,” the judge added. “The oath is our foundation to which the entire court system relies.”
     Star witnesses for the proseution at Kane’s trial had been David Peifer, a special agent in charge of the Bureau of Special Forces for the attorney general, and Josh Morrow, a political consultant who helped Kane get elected. Both men testified against Kane in exchange for immunity.
     The jury heard audio evidence from April 2014 secretly obtained by the FBI in which Morrow admitted to another political constituent John Lisko that Kane was behind the leak.
     “Kathleen called me and has information she wants me to leak out,” Morrow said in the call, adding, “She’s unhinged.”
     Defense attorneys failed to show that Kane’s admitted interest in seeing negative coverage about Fina did not mean that she leaked. In one instance, the jury heard about a damning text message Kane sent Morrow: “Revenge is best served cold.”
     Testimony against Kane from Adrian King, her former first deputy attorney general, claimed that the former attonrey general and Morrow were working together to frame him.
     Judge Demchick-Alloy declined to show Kane more leniency Monday, saying a lesser sentence would depreciate the crimes of perjury, false swearing, obstruction of justice conspiracy and official oppression.
     After setting bail at $75,000 cash, the court denied a bid by Kane’s attorney for extra time to obtain the money. Kane posted the bail later that afternoon, court records show.

     Pool photos via PennLive staff photographer Dan Gleiter.

     

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