Ex-Attorney General Kathleen Kane headed to jail as appeal fails
HARRISBURG — After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear her appeal, disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has exhausted her legal options and must begin serving her jail sentence.
Kane, 52, the first woman and first Democrat to be elected to the state’s top law enforcement job, was convicted two years ago on perjury and other charges, but the judge in the case said she did not have to serve her 10- to 23-month sentence in the Montgomery County prison until she had exhausted her state appeals.
Kane asked the high court to hear her case earlier this year, after the state Superior Court affirmed her conviction for perjury and for leaking grand jury information to hurt a rival. Kane had argued among other things that a special prosecutor who first built the case against her lacked legal authority.
The justices, in their unanimous decision, did not provide an explanation for their denial.
Kate Delano, spokesperson for Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, said the office will now move to revoke Kane’s bail. A judge could order her immediate imprisonment or the two sides could agree on a date for her to report to jail.
Neither Kane nor her attorney, Joshua D. Lock, could be reached for comment Monday.
Her case riveted the state’s legal and political circles for more than two years, as the onetime rising political star became engulfed in a petty yet deeply personal feud with another former prosecutor — a clash that eventually led to her undoing.
Kane believed ex-state prosecutor Frank Fina was behind a March 2014 story in The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News that disclosed that she secretly shut down a sting investigation that had captured Philadelphia Democrats on tape accepting cash, money orders or gifts from an undercover operative. Fina, for many years the head of corruption cases for the Attorney General’s Office, launched the sting before Kane took office in 2013.
To exact revenge, Kane orchestrated a leak of confidential grand jury information about an investigation once run by Fina, one that she believed showed he had failed to aggressively pursue corruption allegations against the onetime head of the Philadelphia NAACP.
In searching for information to discredit Fina, she discovered a trove of emails containing pornography and other offensive content that were exchanged among state prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges — including two former Supreme Court justices. Porngate, as it came to be called, led to the retirements or resignations of more than a half dozen high-profile public officials, including onetime Supreme Court justices Seamus P. McCaffery and J. Michael Eakin.
Kane has said repeatedly that she believes her criminal case was “corruptly manufactured” by a club of “good ol’ boys” bent on preventing her from making those emails public — although many of them were eventually released.
A Montgomery County jury disagreed.
Kane was convicted in August 2016 on two counts of perjury, a felony, and seven counts of abusing the powers of her office, a misdemeanor. She resigned shortly after and has kept a decidedly low profile as she pursued her appeals. Just last month, she was granted a divorce from her husband, Christopher Kane, whose family runs a trucking business, The Scranton Times-Tribune reported.
When she surrenders, Kane will join about 400 other women imprisoned at the Montgomery County jail in Eagleville, about five miles from Norristown.
The women are held in a mix of dorms and multi-person cells, according to Warden Julio M. Agarin.
Kane’s life will be tightly regimented. Prisoners are counted four times a day. Meals are early — lunch well before noon, dinner at 4:30 p.m. Lights go out at 10 p.m. The TVs offer only over-the-air broadcast channels, and are only available in day rooms, though inmates can rent prison-issued tablets with controlled content.
Kane would be permitted to see visitors twice a week for two hours at a time. In response to the opioid crisis, the jail has ended contact visits. Should Kane’s two sons visit, they likely will have to talk to their mother though glass.
Agarin said the prison would grant any request for Kane to receive special protection as a former law enforcement official. That would entail placing her in a cell with fewer inmates and guarding her as she moved about the jail.
But the warden said he didn’t think such precautions would be necessary. “Personally, I don’t see a problem,” he said. “We’ve had law enforcement here before.”