August 07, 2015
In an unusual variation of the perp walk, Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, turned herself into authorities in Norristown, then faced a video court arraignment Saturday afternoon.
She took no questions, whisking out a sidedoor, shielded by a security detail from her office.
Kane, who is the highest-ranking female officeholder in the state, was charged earlier in the week by the Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.
The indictment alleges Kane unlawfully leaked secret grand jury information to the media in an attempt to embarrass a former colleague and then lied about it.
Ferman, a Republican who is running for a judgeship, charged Kane, a Democrat, with obstruction, official oppression, criminal conspiracy, perjury and false swearing.
An August 24 preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m., though a location has not been announced.
A mounting chorus of bi-partisan calls for Kane’s resignation has followed her indictment, including some calls for impeachment, a long and slow process. Kane once was considered a rising star in the party.
Kane is charged with obstruction, official oppression, criminal conspiracy, perjury and false swearing. Her driver and confidant, Patrick Reese, a former police chief, is also charged with improperly snooping in e-mail accounts on her behalf.
Kane, 49, the first woman to be elected as Pennsylvania's top prosecutor, has denied she broke any laws though she has admitted passing along some information that she claims was not confidential to the media.
Kane's alleged illegal actions began after the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article in March 2014 revealing that she had secretly shut down a taped undercover sting investigation that captured Democratic officials from Philadelphia pocketing cash.
According to charging documents, Kane blamed Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor in that case, for the Inquirer story.
She decided to pay him him back by leaking documents to its sister paper, the Philadelphia Daily News.
A memo leaked to the newspaper suggested Fina had mishandled a long-shelved corruption case involving former Philadelphia NAACP leader J. Whyatt Mondesire.
Kane contends she was free to release information about the Mondesire investigation because it was from before she served as attorney general.
The investigation went nowhere and was eventually dropped.
A conviction on the charges would remove Kane from her position, as would a decision to revoke her law license.
At her arraignment Saturday, she entered no formal plea.
Kane indicated through her lawyer, Ross M. Kramer, that she has no intention of resigning. Bail is set at $10,000 unsecured.
Cramer said the narrative presented in the indictment is incomplete and "will look very different," when her defense team responds. "It leaves out players and communications," said Kramer.
Her lawyer said the decision to not take questions entering or leaving the detective office was his client's, but he added Kane intends to set a time next week to respond to journalist's questions about the case. He could not say where or when that will happen.
Kramer said the processing -- taking a mugshot and fingerprints -- was done very professionally by Montgomery County detectives.
Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney, Kevin Steele, who presented the charges during the video arraignment, said the hearing took only five minutes.
"This is an important case for the citizens," of Pennsylvania, said Steele, adding "This was the arraignment of the chief law enforcement officer of the state."