Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was found guilty Aug. 15 of all nine criminal charges brought against her. The charges included obstruction of the administration of law, official oppression, conspiracy, false swearing and most notably, two felony counts of perjury. At PA Governor Tom Wolf’s urging, Kane announced her intention to resign Aug. 16, and her resignation took effect at close of business the following day.
The charges stemmed from an illegal leak of confidential grand jury documents in June 2014. The leak, which the jury has now found Kane guilty of initiating and then lying about under oath, was intended to sully the reputation of former state prosecutor Frank Fina.
Fina had instituted an undercover sting operation before Kane’s election that had garnered evidence of Philadelphia officials accepting bribes. Kane’s conflict with Fina began during her first year in office, when she shut down his sting operation despite its incriminating findings.
In March 2014, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story reporting that she had cancelled the sting operation, which infuriated Kane. She defended her decision publicly by criticizing the operation in the first place, claiming that the evidence from it was not strong enough to bring about convictions. She believed that Fina was the source for the article, and sought revenge in the form of the leak for which she has been convicted.
The documents that Kane leaked led to a story published by the Daily News regarding J. Whyatt Mondesire, former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. The story contained quotes which implied that Fina did not aggressively investigate 2009 allegations against Mondesire, which claimed that Mondesire had used state funds improperly. Mondesire, who has since passed away, was never charged.
Also in 2014, Kane discovered that Fina, who was involved in the investigation of sex offender Jerry Sandusky, had exchanged pornographic emails with numerous government officials. Her criticism of the scandalous emails, only some of which she chose to release, precipitated the resignation of several high-level officials, including two former State Supreme Court Justices and multiple members of former Governor Tom Corbett’s administration.
The Daily News contacted Fina for a comment before the story was released, which alerted Fina that someone had leaked the material. He in turn reported this to the authorities, and Norristown lawyer Thomas Carluccio was appointed as special prosecutor. His grand jury probe as well as an investigation by Montgomery County officials led to Kane’s arrest in Aug. 2015. Her license to practice law was revoked by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the following month, although she continued to serve as Attorney General.
Kane claimed that Fina was responsible for her arrest, alleging that he made up charges against her to distract the public from his email scandal. However, prosecutors argued that the emails were irrelevant to Kane’s charges, and the presiding judge did not allow Kane to officially make that charge in court.
Kane became vocal in her criticism of District Attorney Seth Williams, who hired Fina as a prosecutor. She attempted to garner public disdain for Williams by drawing attention to the fact that he stood by Fina and other staff members who were involved in the pornographic email scandal, more commonly known as Porngate. Fina resigned from Williams’ staff June 2016.
Two of Kane’s associates, Adrian King and Joshua Morrow, served as witnesses for the prosecution. They testified that they had been tasked by her to transport leaked information to the Daily News for the story about Fina’s involvement with the Mondesire case. Morrow even claimed, under a grant of immunity, that he and Kane had colluded to place all the blame on King for the leak. Over the course of the trial, five of Kane’s past and present aides testified in favor of the prosecution.
“She knew it was wrong, she knew it was against the law, and she didn’t care. She did it for revenge. And after that happened, she covered it up with lies,” Prosecutor Michelle Henry stated.
In light of Kane’s resignation, Bruce L. Castor Jr. has been appointed her immediate successor. Castor, formerly a top deputy in the Kane administration, will serve as the acting Attorney General until the November election.
Kane will remain free on bail until Oct. 24, when she is scheduled to appear for sentencing. She has no criminal record prior to this incident, so state guidelines suggest that she will likely serve less than the maximum sentence, which is 28 years in prison.