NORRISTOWN — Bruce Beemer knew the leak was coming from the inside.
In 2014, the long-time prosecutor working as the second-in-command under Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane read a bombshell story in The Philadelphia Daily News about a halted 2009 investigation. Beemer said the moment he read the story, which is now at the center of charges Kane is facing in court this week, he knew the reporter was working off of two confidential documents — one of which was just a few weeks old.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” Beemer testified today in Montgomery County, later adding: “My initial reaction was: ‘who’s giving out police interviews or reports out of our office?'” He originally thought maybe the leaks were coming out of the attorney general’s Norristown office. Now, it’s alleged they came from Kane.
Kane faces charges of perjury and abuse of office after prosecutors say she leaked secret grand jury information to the Daily News in 2014 to exact political revenge. At issue is how involved Kane was in orchestrating the story that outlined a 2009 investigation into J. Whyatt Mondesire, the late former NAACP leader in Philadelphia. That probe wasn’t pursued and Mondesire was never charged, but it didn’t look good for Frank Fina, a former attorney with the Office of the Attorney General who headed up the probe into Mondesire.
The leak to the Daily News came just two months after The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Kane stopped a sting operation in which six Philadelphia Democrats were caught on a wire accepting bribes. Kane believed Fina leaked that story to the Inky because she campaigned on investigating a totally separate probe he had led — the one into Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University.
Beemer’s testimony on direct examination was cut short Tuesday and will continue first thing tomorrow morning. However, other evidence was introduced throughout the day, including grand jury testimony about the alleged leaks and emails sent within the Office of the Attorney General. For example, just days after the Inquirer story dropped, Kane emailed back and forth with J.J. Balaban, a media consultant with the Philadelphia-based Campaign Group. In it, Kane wrote: “I will not allow them to discredit me or my office… This is war.”
Detective Paul Bradbury, who works with the Montgomery County District Attorney, also testified Tuesday and discussed previously unheard-of evidence: A series of texts between Kane and her former political consultant, Josh Morrow.
The texts weren’t aired in court Tuesday, but it sounds like they will be. Bradbury testified that he obtained text messages between Kane and Morrow, who was granted immunity in the case. Morrow is the person who ultimately delivered confidential information to the Daily News — what’s at issue is who, if anyone, told him to do so.
Kane’s attorneys say it wasn’t her. Though she admits telling her first deputy at the time, Adrian King, that the public should be aware of the thwarted 2009 sting operation, they say she did so lawfully and didn’t leak any secret information protected under grand jury rules.
It’s clear her attorneys are attempting to poke holes in the credibility of both Morrow and Adrian King, Kane’s former right-hand man who delivered materials to Morrow about a month before the Daily News obtained a confidential memo and a transcript related to the 2009 investigation. Both King and Morrow were granted immunity.
Kane’s term as attorney general ends in December, and she’s currently leading the office under a suspended law license. If convicted, Kane stands to permanently lose her license to practice law and could face time behind bars.
Other witnesses who could be called to testify as the trial continues this week include Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, ex-Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey and Daily News reporter Chris Brennan. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.