NORRISTOWN, Pa. (TheBlaze/AP) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was convicted of all counts in a perjury and obstruction trial late Monday evening.
The jury found that Kane, a Democrat, leaked secret criminal files and then lied about it in order to carry out revenge on a rival.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane enters a courtroom at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Monday. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool)
Although officials in Pennsylvania do not have to resign over misconduct until they are actually sentenced, Kane is expected to address her job status within days. Kane lost her law license over the charges.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat, renewed his previous calls for Kane to step down.
“Today is a sad day for the commonwealth and the people of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a statement. “Attorney General Kane has been convicted of serious charges. These are unbecoming of the commonwealth’s top law enforcement officer.”
As I have made clear, I do not believe Kathleen Kane should be Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I believed this when she was charged, and today, after conviction, there should be no question that she should resign immediately. While there is no simple procedure to remove a civil officer, the Office of Attorney General and its employees, as well as the people of Pennsylvania, deserve to move on. I implore Attorney General Kane to do what is right: put the commonwealth’s residents first and step down from office.
Kane showed little emotion as the jury convicted her late Monday of all nine counts, including two felony perjury counts.
After hearing days of testimony about petty feuds, political intrigue and "cloak and dagger" machinations, Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy called Kane, 50, a flight risk and ordered her to surrender her passport. She also threatened to jail Kane if she retaliated against the once-trusted aides who testified against her.
In an episode that seemed more likely at a mob trial than a statehouse corruption case, Kane's political operative described being taken to a parking garage, stripped of his phone, keys and wallet and searched for a recording device before a lunch meeting with the attorney general.
The consultant, Josh Morrow, admitted lying to the grand jury to protect Kane after they had concocted a cover story that framed her chief deputy for the leak. Morrow was granted immunity for his testimony.
"Kathleen and I came up with a story, about what I was going to testify to and what she was going to testify to," Morrow said last week. "I guess I was just trying to protect Kathleen."
Kane, who had never held elected office prior to her role as attorney general, enjoyed a brief honeymoon period in 2013 before her agency descended into chaos as she feuded with officials inside and outside the department.
When she suspected a former office prosecutor had leaked a critical news article about her shutting down a statehouse probe, she decided to leak word that he had shut down an investigation into an NAACP official in 2009, the jury found.
The NAACP official, who was never charged, was smeared in the process, authorities said.
Kane had the material sent to a reporter through chief deputy Adrian King and Morrow.
"Where is my story? I'm dying here," she texted Morrow as the Philadelphia Daily News reporter worked on the story, according to texts shown to the jury.
Defense lawyer Seth Farber, in closing arguments Monday, said Morrow and King would "say whatever they need to in order to protect themselves."
Text messages and phone records show frequent interactions among the three of them on key days in the prosecution's timeline: when the documents changed hands, when the Daily News article appeared and when a grand jury started to investigate the leak.
A top deputy told the jury he was alarmed by the contents of the June 2014 article. He testified Kane told him it was no big deal.
"Who would say that other than the person that is responsible for it?" Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked.
Kane did not testify during the trial or call any defense witnesses.
"The conviction on all counts ... was a crushing blow, but we have not lost our resolve," defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said, adding that he would appeal the judge's decision to exclude evidence about the offensive, mildly pornographic emails Kane found on state computers.
"We have been denied the opportunity to mount a full defense," Shargel said.
Perjury, the only felony charged, can bring up to seven years in prison. The misdemeanor charges include conspiracy, official oppression and false swearing.
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry said after the verdict, "What she did while she was the attorney general, the fact she would commit criminal acts while the top prosecutor, is a disgrace."
In an email to TheBlaze, Jeffrey A. Johnson, acting deputy press secretary for the attorney general’s office, said, “There will be no change in the efficiency or function of the office, which is comprised of hundreds of dedicated employees who are true professionals and work hard every day on behalf of the Commonwealth’s citizens. They will continue to do that moving forward.”
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