(CN) – Pennsylvania’s attorney general was so bent on revenge against a rival that she broke the law by leaking secret grand jury documents to a reporter, then she lied to cover up her actions, prosecutors said as Kathleen Kane’s perjury and obstruction trial opened Tuesday.
“Revenge is best served cold, those were her [Kane’s] words,” Special First Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry told jurors at the start of her opening statement.
“She broke the laws when her job was to uphold them,” Henry said, gesturing toward the attorney general.
“This case is very simple. The defendant wanted to get revenge, and to get that revenge she leaked secret confidential information to a reporter. She knew it was against she law, but she didn’t’ care. She did it with revenge and she covered it up with lies” Henry said.
As the prosecutor laid out her case, Kane appeared calm and nonplussed. Dressed in a cream and black tweed suit, she occasionally leaned in to speak with her attorney, Gerald Shargel.
At one point, as her defense team began its rebuttal, Kane even managed a smile.
Kane, 50, the first woman and first Democrat ever elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, waged an aggressive campaign for the office, frequently criticizing the pace with which her predecessor investigated child sex abuse allegations against Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Frank Fina, the chief deputy attorney general who led that investigation, left when Kane took office. But the campaign left a bitter taste for both.
When Kane later decided not to charge anyone in connection with a statehouse bribery sting and got panned in the press about that decision she believed Fina was behind the sour coverage.
“I will not allow them to discredit me or our office,” Kane wrote to a media strategist that day, according to emails shown in court Tuesday. “This is war.”
Prosecutors say Kane collected documents from an unrelated case that Fina had taken to a grand jury and also later dropped and gave them to a trusted assistant, who allegedly had them delivered to a reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News.
The subsequent story proved embarrassing to the subject of the Fina-led grand jury investigation: J. Whyatt Mondesire, an NAACP leader in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, Henry described him as a “casualty” of Kane’s blind pursuit of revenge.
Prosecutors contend Kane then compounded these alleged acts by repeatedly lying to a grand jury investigating the leak.
Kane has categorically denied all wrong-doing.
On Tuesday morning, Shargel was equally emphatic.
“Attorney general Kathleen Kane did not leak any grand jury materials, she did not lie. She did not authorize anyone to leak information to the press or to anyone else. She worked hard to achieve her success,” he said, accusing prosecutors of “trying to make up a feud.”
Shargel told jurors that Fina left for a job in Philadelphia, and that Kane had no motivation to pursue a course of action that would have risked her career.
“[He] left 10 minutes after she arrived,” Shargel said.
“It just does not make sense that she would risk her reputation and her career [over him],” he said.
After both prosecution and defense spent an hour, respectively, on opening statements, District Attorney Kevin Steele, showed the jury various original and redacted versions of disclosure statements, emails, memo’s and other documents regarding the grand jury leak on two large screens in the courtroom.
He then called the first witness, Det. Paul Michael Bradbury, who was the lead investigator into the leak. Together Steele and Bradbury reviewed Kane’s prior testimony about the leaks, identifying what they said were a number of inconsistencies.
From time to time, Steele returned to the projected images of documents to support their assertions of Kane’s untruthfulness.
Bradbury then read aloud portions of Kane’s testimony in which she first denied giving an grand jury documents to a staffer, then backtracked and appeared to admit that the public had a right to know about “a pattern of non-prosecution.”
At one point Kane is quoted in the transcript as saying, “I didn’t consider it a leak, a leak is something you do secretly, something you don’t want other to know.”
On cross examination, defense attorney Douglas Rosenbloom attempted to pick apart Bradbury’s testimony, a line of inquiry that inspired numerous objections from the prosecution.
Finally, Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy called a side bar meeting with the two sides, warning each to be quiet and let the other side present its case.
“This is no time for closing argument from either of you,” she admonished the attorneys.
Kane is charged with perjury, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of conspiracy, obstruction and false swearing.
She lost her law license over the charges and did not seek re-election this year. The trial will continue Wednesday and is expected to last a week.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaves the courtroom for a short recess on the second day of her trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, August 9, 2016. (Dan Gleiter/PennLive.com via AP, Pool)
- Convicted Day Care Worker Faces Retrial
- Legalized NJ Sports Betting Rejected by En Banc Court