NORRISTOWN — Adrian King and Kathleen Kane have known each other since their days at Temple Law School in the early 1990s. They dated back then and even lived together for a year after graduation, King said.
They went their separate ways. King to Philadelphia and Kane to Scranton. For the next 20 years, they stayed friends and that’s part of the reason why when Kane became Pennsylvania’s Attorney General in 2013 she selected King to be her first deputy attorney general.
Wednesday afternoon, on a day in which the prosecution laid out the scenarios preceding Kane’s alleged leak of secret grand jury information in 2014 to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan, their once-friendly relationship couldn’t have seemed farther away. He sat at the witness stand of the Montgomery County Courthouse and referred to Kane not as Kathleen but mostly as “the defendant.” Kane’s legal team tried to poke holes in his credibility, mostly by attacking conflicting statements and dates he had provided under oath with regards to this case. King fired right back.
“It became clear that the Attorney General and Mr. (Josh) Morrow,” he said, “were trying to frame me.”
As he finished the sentence, Kane smiled and shook her head in disbelief.
King was the last witness called on Wednesday. He said on April 23, 2014, he delivered an envelope from Kane to Morrow, a consultant, thinking it was campaign materials. Prosecutors allege the envelope contained the secret grand jury materials later given to Brennan.
The defense tried to show King has plenty to lose if he were implicated in the alleged leak of grand jury materials and that he should’ve known better than to deliver an envelope without questioning its contents.
“Does the Attorney General’s Office,” asked lawyer Seth Farber, “have a FedEx account?”
The defense will continue its cross-examination of King in the morning.
The chain of events prosecutors say ended with the leak started with a call from a reporter and an email between two agents of her office that read, “Need to talk very important.” Those agents were Michael Miletto and David Peifer.
In February 2014, Miletto testified he got a call from reporter Isaiah Thompson, then working for the now-defunct Axis Philly. Thompson had published an article the previous month detailing misuse of NAACP funds under the leadership of J. Whyatt Mondesire.
On March 16, 2014, the Inquirer published an article about another subject, the sting investigation of Philly politicians that Kane had disbanded. The article through the Attorney General’s Office into disarray. King said Kane called an all-hands meeting for the senior officials in the office.
“She felt the article was being pushed by Frank Fina,” he testified, “and other former prosecutors in the office.”
Days later, on March 19, Miletto sent an email to Peifer telling him they needed to talk. Peifer said over the phone they talked about J. Whyatt Mondesire, who had been investigated by a grand jury. Miletto said he was concerned grand jury information could’ve been in the hands of Thompson.
“My concern at that time was there was info in [Axis Philly] that almost mirrored our case,” he testified.
After talking with Miletto, Peifer testified he met with Kane, making her aware of their concerns about the Mondesire case going public. He said she told him to find out more details of the case. This led to Peifer interviewing Miletto for a formal statement. Peifer recorded it and had a staffer make a transcript. Shortly after, he met again with Kane, who sat at a table, Peifer said, with King, her driver Patrick Reese and communications staffer JJ Abbott.
“I briefed her from the transcript,” he said. “As I went through it, I handed the transcript to her and she laid it down in front of her.”
Peifer said he did not make any other copies of the transcript. Information from the transcript appeared in the Daily News article Kane allegedly leaked in June 2014.
“I could only attribute the statement to one location,” Peifer said when questioned by Kane’s team, “and that was it.”
King said on April 23, about a month after that meeting, Kane asked him to take an 8.5 x 11 manila envelope to Morrow. Morrow was in Philadelphia, where King lives. King said he left the package between his front door and a protective glass door for Morrow to pick up.
Shortly before Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy called for an end of the session, Kane attorney Farber asked why he wouldn’t have questioned about the package more or asked Kane to send it a different way, bringing up how their relationship that stretched back to Temple should have made him comfortable with doing so.
“You just took the package,” he asked, “and delivered?”
“I did,” King said, “what she asked me to do.”
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