Legal Trouble Mounts for Ex-Pennsylvania AG

     HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) — Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was hit with another lawsuit over emails she leaked before a jury found her guilty on obstruction and conspiracy charges.
     The federal complaint, filed Friday in the Central District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Kane’s “outrageous and malicious” conduct caused personal and professional harm for plaintiff Christopher Carusone, who worked as a lawyer in attorney general’s office from 2004 to 2011, two years before Kane took office.
     Kane, Pennsylvania’s first elected female attorney general, ran a campaign in 2012 promising to look into prosecutors’ investigation and successful prosecution of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, according to Carusone’s lawsuit.
     After taking office, Kane launched an inquiry of said investigation, turning up supposedly “inappropriate emails.” The emails were alleged to contain racist and pornographic content.
     Around that same time, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about Kane, a Democrat, shutting down a sting operation targeting Philadelphia Democratic officials accused of bribery.
     Kane suspected Frank Fina, one of the prosecutors in the Sandusky case, of leaking the information. Kane then selectively released some of the emails in attempts to damage Fina’s reputation, as she believed he was directly responsible for the story. Fina was working in the Philadelphia DA’s office at the time, after leaving the attorney general’s office.
     In her “war” on Fina, she decided to target his friends in hopes that they could stop Fina’s perceived attacks on her. Carusone says Kane saw him as a close friend of Fina’s.
     Kane’s chief operating officer approached Carusone and told him to tell “his boy” to back off “or people were going to get hurt” through the release of emails, according to Carusone’s complaint.
     The lawsuit alleges that Kane deprived Carusone of his right to due process by “intentionally misusing the powers of her office … in an effort to carry out a personal vendetta against Fina.”
     The complaint also names Renee Martin, David Peifer, Braden Cook and William Nemetz as co-defendants for their alleged roles in conspiring against Fina’s friends. Peifer, Cook and Nemetz all worked in Kane’s office as special agents while Martin was the communications director.
     Because Kane did not inform any former attorney general’s office employee of the emails prior to leaking them, Carusone was “totally blindsided by the release” making it impossible to defend himself against the “onslaught of negative media coverage,” he alleges.
     Carusone says he was fired from a private law firm where he was due to become an equity partner because of the release of the emails.
     Kane had initially defended her decision to release the emails as the result of “human resources policies” required by the state of Pennsylvania, but later claimed it was the result of open-records requests. Carusone claims Kane’s own office asked reporters to submit the requests.
     Carusone seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He is represented by Joel Frank of Lamb McErlane in West Chester, Pa.
     Kane was convicted last month of all charges of official oppression, obstruction of the administration of justice, conspiracy, false swearing and perjury. A jury found that Kane was so bent on revenge against Fina that she broke the law by leaking secret grand jury documents to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan and then lied to a grand jury to cover up her actions.
     A complaint filed last year mirrors allegations in Carusone’s Friday complaint. Fina and three other former state prosecutors — E. Marc Costanzo, Randy Feathers and Richard Sheetz Jr. — sued Kane, along with Frank Noonan, a former commissioner of the state police force.
     They claimed that Kane” misused the power of her office, and its publicly funded resources, for the purpose of silencing her critics through a pattern of intimidation, attempted blackmail, and vindictive retaliation against those persons who have lawfully exposed [her] falsehoods, unlawful activities, and violations of her oath of office.”

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