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Judge in Sandusky case orders Kane to appear for questioning under oath

APTOPIXAttorneyGeneralGrandJuryLeakJPEG02001
In this file photo from March 2015, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room at City Hall in Philadelphia.
APTOPIXAttorneyGeneralGrandJuryLeakJPEG02001
In this file photo from March 2015, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane walks from the State Supreme Court room at City Hall in Philadelphia.

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane will appear Thursday for questioning under oath by the judge hearing Jerry Sandusky’s appeal because she claimed she has “no knowledge” of any leaked grand jury material from the serial pedophile’s investigation, as she implied last week.

Senior Judge John M. Cleland of McKean County, hearing the case in Centre County, ordered Kane to appear, noting she reported that “she has no knowledge at this time of any email that proves” former grand jury Judge Barry Feudale and former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, who prosecuted Sandusky, conspired to leak information.

Kane’s appearance will be a closed-door court session because it involves secret grand jury testimony, a court spokesman said. Her answer, filed under seal, may not directly address her “conclusion that Judge Feudale and/or attorneys of the Office of Attorney General in any way orchestrated, facilitated, cooperated in, arranged for disclosure of otherwise secret grand jury material in this case,” Cleland wrote.

“She believes she provided the information requested in the first place,” said Kane’s spokesman, Chuck Ardo.

Ardo said Kane, in public comments, was not referring to the Sandusky investigation, but to a sealed Supreme Court order removing Feudale as a grand jury judge in 2013, at Kane’s request.

In a news release last week, Kane claimed: “The seriousness of this reckless breach of sealed Supreme Court documents, orchestrated by the presiding judge of a state investigative grand jury, with attorneys and the very reporters who have covered some of the Sandusky, Computergate and Bonusgate cases, cannot be overstated.”

Feudale on Wednesday released a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, selected state senators, Supreme Court justices, the FBI and state police alleging 19 crimes and ethical violations committed by Kane. Calling her a “mean-spirited liar,” Feudale urged the Senate to act quickly to remove Kane from office. He alleges she was behind unlawful access of his personal email, including discussions with his lawyers.

Feudale’s complaint “looks like a long list of allegations without a scintilla of evidence to support them,” Ardo said. “We would hope the judge would have required more evidence to convict when he presided over cases.”

In her statements to reporters last week, Kane alleged that Feudale’s “overriding concern was how to leak sealed Supreme Court documents without getting caught.” Feudale, in his complaint, said “the final straw” was Kane’s “rendering de facto … assistance to the defense of the conviction of Jerry Sandusky.”

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term for molesting 10 boys.

“If as she claims, Fina and I somehow conspired to have Sandusky unlawfully convicted (an absurd allegation), then she should turn such evidence over to OAG lawyers who are licensed to practice law and defend his conviction,” Feudale said. “They have a responsibility to turn over such to Sandusky’s defense counsel.”

Al Lindsay, a Butler lawyer representing Sandusky, has the opportunity to question Kane on Thursday, according to Cleland’s order.

Lindsay said he could not comment.

Kane succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to remove Feudale as grand jury judge in 2013, based on her complaint that he criticized former Attorney General Linda Kelly and was too close to Fina, who handled most of the complex corruption cases. Kane contended Feudale openly wielded a knife, which he denies.

Kane last week sent copies of Feudale’s personal emails captured on attorney general servers to the Judicial Conduct Board.

Kane faces 12 criminal charges in Montgomery County stemming from a leak of grand jury material to a Philadelphia newspaper. Prosecutors say she leaked information on a case Fina did not prosecute, in an attempt to embarrass him.

Feudale has accused Kane of being behind an unauthorized access of his grand jury office while he was out of town. He claims sensitive documents were taken.

In his complaint, Feudale alleges Kane “seems to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, and initiated investigations and unlawfully accessed secret grand jury materials without the authorization of a grand jury judge,” since the high court suspended her law license Oct. 22.

Feudale said after his removal from the grand jury, a state police trooper contacted him “to discuss unethical, political, and/or criminal activities by Kane relevant to Pennsylvania State Police investigations” but that he did not follow up.

Also Wednesday, the chairman of a special Senate Committee determining whether Kane can continue to do her job without an active law license demanded messages Kane has exchanged since her license suspension took effect.

A letter from Chairman John Gordner, a Republican senator from Bloomsburg, told Kane it is “imperative” the documents be delivered by Thursday as part of the committee’s review. The committee could recommend that the full Senate remove Kane from office under an obscure section of the Constitution.

The committee wants electronic communications describing the operation of the 700-plus person office after her suspension. Under the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling, Kane, a Democrat, lost her right to practice law but was not removed.

The committee seeks “any and all communications” sent to Kane by employees related to the suspension; a list of any duties delegated by the attorney general to other employees; and any opinion or explanation of the legal authority of the attorney general to delegate duties to First Deputy Bruce Beemer.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. He can be reached at 717- 787-1405 or [email protected].

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