NORRISTOWN — Wanda Scheib isn’t a notary anymore. She doesn’t want to be — and it’s because of the stress she endured having to turn in her boss for what she saw as a lie.
Scheib, who has worked as an executive assistant in the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General since 1992 and is still employed in the office, read a criminal complaint filed against Attorney General Kathleen Kane in August 2015. And Scheib knew she was lying.
Kane had testified before the grand jury that she wasn’t bound by secrecy in a grand jury investigation that’s now at the center of perjury and abuse of office charges filed against her. She said she wasn’t asked to sign “historical oaths,” or oaths of secrecy taken that apply to cases prior to her time as the chief law enforcement officer in the state.
Scheib testified during Kane’s criminal trial today that she knew that was false and that she had personally notarized the secrecy oaths related to the grand jury investigations Kane had allegedly leaked information about. Scheib testified she had serious reservations about telling someone. And she didn’t want to lose the job she’d had for more than 20 years.
She decided to tell Bruce Beemer, who was then the first deputy attorney general.
“He was someone who was in my chain of command, ultimately he was the first deputy,” Scheib testified, “and also somebody that I knew I could trust to say something.”
He did. And the existence of those secrecy oaths stood as the basis for additional perjury charges to be filed against Kane in October 2015. This week, she’s on trial in Montgomery County and stands to lose not only her right to practice law, but also could be sentenced to prison time if she’s found guilty.
Prosecutors say Kane leaked secret grand jury information and then lied about it in order to embarrass a political foe. It’s alleged she orchestrated the leaking of at least two secret grand jury documents to the Philadelphia Daily News detailing an abandoned 2009 investigation into J. Whyatt Mondesire, the late Philadelphia NAACP leader.
It’s alleged Kane did so in order to embarrass Frank Fina, the attorney who led that investigation, whom Kane was feuding with as she thought he leaked an unflattering story about her to the Philadelphia Inquirer that appeared in March 2014.
The only other witness to testify so far Thursday was Adrian King, Kane’s former first deputy, who says that in spring 2014, Kane told him to deliver a box of confidential information to a consultant — information that was eventually used in the Daily News about a 2009 grand jury investigation into Mondesire.
King, who came off as somewhere between confident and standoffish during his testimony Thursday, said he believes he has done nothing wrong. King said he had no idea what was in the box and never asked about the contents. He simply left it on his porch for a consultant to pick up.
“You’ve been telling this story about how Ms. Kane just told you to take some package where you didn’t know the contents of?” asked Kane’s defense attorney Seth Farber. “You’ve been telling that story from the beginning, right?”
King responded: “I’ve been telling the truth, yes.
“A version of events which passes no blame or responsibility on you?” Farber pressed. “You believe you’ve done nothing wrong?” King responded only, “correct.”
King and Kane’s relationship dates back to the early 1990s when the two attended Temple Law School together. They remained close over the years, making him a natural pick to serve as her first deputy attorney general.
Things have soured since then. King testified that Kane asked him to deliver confidential grand jury material to Josh Morrow, a media consultant, who would agree to take the documents to Daily News reporter Chris Brennan.
The documents included a years-old memo and a more recent transcript of an interview with Agent Michael Miletto of the Office of the Attorney General. Both were protected by grand jury secrecy laws, but King testified he was asked on April 23 to take an 8.5 x 11 manila envelope to Morrow in Philadelphia where King lives.
Instead, King left the package on his porch in between his front door and his storm door for Morrow to pick up. We haven’t yet heard testimony from Morrow on what happened next, but he told detectives with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office that he redacted some material from the documents and took them to the Daily News.
This all started in February 2014 when Miletto got a call from Isaiah Thompson, a former reporter with the now-defunct Axis Philly. Miletto testified Thompson was inquiring about the 2009 investigation into Mondesire, and Miletto was concerned Thompson possessed secret grand jury material — especially because the reporter published a story a month prior on the finances of Mondesire and the NAACP.
Miletto took his concerns to Agent David Peifer, who then met with Kane in March to make her aware of his concerns. The story appeared in the Daily News in June. Today is the third day of Kane’s criminal trial and testimony will continue this afternoon. Other witnesses listed include Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, former state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey and Daily News reporter Chris Brennan.
- Kane’s former top attorney takes the stand: She was ‘trying to frame me’
- Another reporter may have known about the Mondesire investigation before Kane allegedly leaked it
- Former Kane deputy says she told him ‘don’t worry about’ the media leak
- Former Kane top deputy on alleged media leak: ‘I was shocked’
- Both sides of Kathleen Kane trial offer a glimpse into their strategies