Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane at the Montgomery County Courthouse, in Norristown.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane at the Montgomery County Courthouse, in Norristown.

Inquirer Staff Photographer / Jessica Griffin/ Pool photo

Prosecutor: Kathleen Kane is a casualty of the ‘war’ she started

“Wars have casualties. Wars leave scars,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele as he made closing arguments.

NORRISTOWN — Montgomery County’s district attorney pulled no punches Monday as he told a jury why Kathleen Kane should be found guilty of lying about orchestrating the leak of secret grand jury materials: It was a war she started, so she shouldn’t be surprised by a shot from the other side.

“As you all know,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told the jury, “wars have casualties. Wars leave scars. And over the course of the last week, you’ve gotten to see some of those casualties.”

The war metaphor was taken straight from emails sent by Attorney General Kathleen Kane that were aired last week during her criminal trial as she faces charges of perjury and abuse of office. When she was discussing a story she believed was planted in the Philadelphia Inquirer by a political foe, she responded, “this is war.”

Prosecutors say Kane, whose term as attorney general ends in December, worked with two close confidants to plant a story in the Philadelphia Daily News in 2014 in order to embarrass Frank Fina, a former employee of the Office of the Attorney General who Kane though leaked a story to the Inquirer to make her look bad.

Kane, prosecutors say, wanted to revenge.

Over the course of nearly two hours, Steele outlined an extensive timeline dating back to January 2013 when Kane first took office. At the time, Kane was touted as the next great thing in the Democratic party. Then in March 2014, the Inquirer story dropped about Kane shutting down a sting operation that would have snared other Democrats. It was her first taste of bad press.

Two of her former aides — political consultant Josh Morrow and first deputy Adrian King — testified against her. Morrow admitted to handing over secret grand jury documents about an abandoned 2009 investigation into J. Whyatt Mondesire, the former head of the Philadelphia NAACP, to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan. Fina led the investigation into Mondesire.

Morrow testified he was just following the orders of Kane, whom he described as “hell-bent” on getting back at Fina. Kane’s defense attorney Seth Farber said during his closing argument that she wasn’t feuding with Fina, and that it was really Morrow who was “obsessed” with him.

“Really?” Steele said in response. “[Fina and Kane] kind of paired off against each other here,” he said, pointing to the March 2014 Inquirer story that featured photos of both of them.

In addition to Morrow’s testimony that it was Kane who orchestrated the leak of the Mondesire documents to the Daily News, Steele also stressed that Morrow and Kane conspired to concoct a series of lies as a grand jury investigation into the leaks heated up.

And while Kane faces a number of charges with regard to leaking grand jury information, it’s the potential for lies to the grand jury that could get her in serious trouble. If she’s convicted, it could send her to prison.

Proceedings at the Montgomery County Courthouse are on a break for lunch. After that, jurors will be charged and will begin deliberations.

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