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October 24, 2016

Judge sentences Kathleen Kane to prison for perjury conviction

Montco judge sentences former AG for perjury

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison on Monday for her conviction on perjury and obstruction charges that stemmed from a political feud, according to multiple media reports.

A Norristown, Montgomery County jury found Kane guilty on Aug. 15.

Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said Kane assumed an "off with your heads" mentality as she ran the state's top law enforcement agency. The judge called Kane a political "neophyte" who failed to make the transition from campaigner to public servant after she took office.

"This case is about ego — the ego of a politician consumed with her image from Day One," Demchick-Alloy said. "This case is about retaliation and revenge against perceived enemies who this defendant ... felt had embarrassed her in the press."

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top prosecutor, was handcuffed in court and led out a side door. She will remain in custody until she posts $75,000 cash bail, higher than she had previously posted.

No surrender date was given, presuming she does post bail.

"(Kane) went down a course that a prosecutor shouldn't," said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, a fellow Democrat. "Now, she's facing incarceration over that offense. That sends a significant message about what we need to do as public servants and how we need to behave."

Kane, 50, had asked the judge to sentence her to probation or house arrest so she could remain home to raise her two teenage sons. She argued that the loss of her career, law license and reputation is punishment enough.

Prosecutors call her crimes "egregious" and pushed for jail time. They say a paranoid Kane ruined morale in the 800-person office and the wider law enforcement community through a calculated scheme to embarrass rival prosecutors who had left the office.

Kane "repeatedly misused her official authority to advance her personal vendettas,"  Steele wrote in a sentencing memo last week.

Kane enjoyed mostly good press early in her term as attorney general as she supported gay marriage, ramped up a child predator unit run by her twin sister and questioned her predecessor's handling of the Penn State sex assault case.

But turmoil inside the office became apparent as top deputies and career prosecutors headed for the doors. Kane's feud with one of them, Frank Fina, who had helped run the Penn State probe and other sensitive investigations, led to the leak.

Kane had a campaign consultant pass confidential files to a reporter about a corruption case Fina had declined to charge before he left the office. She then tried to frame someone else for the leak, aides testified at the perjury and obstruction trial.

Kane did not testify at the August trial. A jury convicted her on all nine counts and Kane had faced a maximum sentence of 12-24 years in prison.

After the trial, Common Pleas Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy sharply warned Kane that she would put her in jail if she tried to retaliate against anyone.

Pennsylvania's current attorney general, Bruce R. Beemer, called Kane's sentencing "another sad day for the Commonwealth" in a statement released shortly after Demchick-Alloy announced her decision.

"The Office of Attorney General is moving forward with steps to restore the public's confidence in the work that we do and the way that we do it," Beemer said. "The men and women of the OAG are dedicated public servants who do their jobs with integrity on a daily basis. That is what the public expects and deserves."

Kane overcame a difficult childhood in Scranton to put herself through college and law school. She worked as an assistant county prosecutor before a stint as a stay-at-home mother and community volunteer. She then used $2.25 million of her husband's family trucking fortune to run for attorney general. They are now divorcing. Kane expects to get $6 million in the divorce and receives nearly $350,000 a year in alimony and child support while living in the family's sprawling home in Clarks Summit, according to local news reports that cite family court filings.

Aside from the conviction, Kane's political career will be remembered for her investigation of pornography that she said was being traded on state computers by judges, lawyers and other public employees. Two state Supreme Court justices resigned amid the fallout.