The last two years with Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane have been an adventure. Remember when she referenced the not-real movie “Boondog Millionaire” in an attempt to connect with her sons? When she threatened to release all the porny emails but then said she couldn’t, but then a judge then said, yes, yes you can? When her twin entered a courtroom ahead of her to confuse the media? All those times she held “press conferences” that consisted of her soliloquies?
Well, the last few days, during her criminal trial in Montgomery County, the testimony about Kane and her associates has taken this…strangeness, oddness, ridiculousness?…to new levels. Closing arguments start today. We’ve summarized the 10 revelations that best illustrate how weird this Kathleen Kane case has been.
1. ‘Revenge’ texts ?
On May 5, after political consultant Joshua Morrow spoke with Daily News reporter Chris Brennan about the documents he had leaked to him, he had this conversation via text with Kane:
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” is sooo 2013. The 2014 version: “Time for Frank to feel the heat.”
Context: The same day those kind of incriminating texts were sent, Kane was working with children who were reviewing an app created to prevent cyber bullying.
2. Peak Kane paranoia ?
Apparently Kane was concerned that even some of her closest friends — whom she allegedly trusted with SECRET GRAND JURY INFORMATION — were out to get her. Morrow testified that one day in August 2014 after the Daily News story about an investigation in NAACP leader J. Whyatt Mondesire had already dropped, he planned to grab lunch with Kane at the Bellevue in Philadelphia. This was not out of the ordinary.
What was unusual was the pre-lunch treatment. Rather than meeting her at the Bellevue like usual, he was picked up by her driver and taken to a parking garage where the driver confiscated his cellphone and “wanded” him down to be sure he wasn’t wearing a wire. Then, lunch. Kane told him she had become aware a grand jury investigation was launched into who leaked what to the Daily News.
“She apologized to me for the security detail,” Morrow testified, “and said it’s a new office protocol.”
Something similar happened to him in October of that year while he says they were in the process of concocting a lie in order to cover up the alleged leak. He said Kane asked him to meet her in a park in Dunmore, near Scranton, where she was living at the time.
When he got to the park, a driver picked up Morrow, drove him to his house, took his phone, wallet and keys and “wanded” him again for a wire. Then, he drove him back to the park, had him get out of the car and then get into another car that Kane was in so the two of them could have a conversation. Morrow described her as “frantic.”
“She was just like, ‘I need help, I need help, I need someone to help me,’” Morrow testified. “I said ‘I’ll do whatever you need me to do. Tell me what you want me to do.’ There was no answer.”
3. “Kathleen is like unhinged” ?
Shortly before Kane allegedly provided Morrow with the secret grand jury materials, he called a friend to chat about it. This friend was John Lisko. And this being Pennsylvania and these men being involved in politics it just so happened this call was being recorded by the Feds, who were investigating Likso’s boss, state treasurer Rob McCord. The result was damning evidence against Kane.
After Lisko and Morrow each offered a greeting of “yo,” Morrow unloaded about Kane, calling the person he would allegedly leak documents for “unhinged” multiple times.
Likso: “I mean I don’t know, I really don’t get why they want to do it.”
Morrow: “No, because Kathleen is like unhinged, like she’s talking instead of having a strategy to do this. It’s like, ‘let me just throw everything on the wall and see what sticks.’”
Morrow: “Nah, she’s unhinged is what it is. She’s unhinged.”
4. ‘Where is my story?’ ?
On May 12, just a couple weeks later, Kane texted Morrow: “Where is my story? I’m dying here while you are drinking.”
That date’s pretty significant in the history of this case. May 12, 2014 is the day Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo, Kane’s rivals whom she was allegedly trying to embarrass by leaking the grand jury information in the first place, went to speak with Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter.
Both Fina and Costanzo had already been contacted by Brennan regarding the abandoned 2009 investigation, and they went to Carpenter to ask him to open a grand jury investigation to look into where the leak came from. Fina told Carpenter he didn’t know where the leak came from, but knew the attorney general was “looking through historical emails, particularly mine.”
5. Happy Election Day! I got served. ?
Morrow and Kane had an interesting text exchange on Election Day 2014 in which Morrow breaks the news to Kane that he had been served a subpoena to testify before the grand jury and Kane refers to herself as an “old aunt in the home.”
Oddly enough, it was maybe only the second-worst Election Day of the year for Morrow. In May 2014, Morrow’s then-girlfriend, now-fiance Shaughnessy Naughton — whom he was also politically advising — lost her bid for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 8th District by just 800 votes. Her name sound familiar? She ran for Congress again this year, and Morrow was her campaign manager. She also lost again in the primary this year.
Maybe Election Days aren’t so lucky for you, Josh.
6. Did someone else leak information to Kane? ?
Morrow got the feeling Kathleen Kane knew waaaay too much about the grand jury investigation — of which she was the target. After he testified before the grand jury the first time in November 2016, he testified that they spoke on the phone close to midnight that night so they could review his testimony. But Morrow got the feeling she already (kind of) knew what had happened.
Here’s what Morrow testified happened during that late-night phone call:
“She said ‘word on the street is you testified today.’ She said that I testified by video, when in fact it was by phone… There was just stuff that she knew. I think she knew what time I did it. I don’t remember all the facts. She knew that I testified, and I was upset. Less upset she knew and more upset that I thought it was leaked by a reporter, because ‘word on the street’ means reporters are calling and asking for comment.”
So Morrow thought Kane had somebody leak her secret grand jury information from a case about Kane leaking secret grand jury information.
7. Kane’s ex tricked a judge while she was on vaca ⚖
Just after the Inquirer story dropped in 2014 about Kane shutting down a sting that caught Philly pols accepting money, Kane took what she described as a much-needed trip to Haiti. She got away from the media attention and the spotlight and headed to Haiti that April on a charity-based trip (that was at one point investigated by the FBI.) Typically when top officials in Pennsylvania leave the country or the state for any extended period of time, they fill out “designee” forms in order to officially delegate their duties to other people in the office so work can still get done in their absence.
Kane didn’t do that when she went to Haiti. So she had no “designee.” Adrian King, an ex-flame who was her first deputy at the time, ended up in a pickle. He was in the middle of a “significant” drug investigation and needed a wiretap. Problem is: A judge isn’t supposed to authorize a wiretap without a request from the attorney general. She was not in the area. Or even the nation. And she hadn’t given anyone else in her office the authority to sign in her place.
So King testified that he thought it was “an innocent mistake” (it wasn’t) and so he asked an aide of some sort to sign their name to the designation letter, making the judge think that the King was Kane’s designee in her absence. The wiretap was approved, and King got away with probably some form of misconduct.
Kane’s defense attorney brought up the, er, lapse during cross-examination of King, who said he later learned “the letter was deliberately not signed.” Kane’s lawyer shot back in what was clearly an attempt to make King look untrustworthy: “It was her intention not to delegate that to you, correct?”
Then King had the zingiest zinger of the week.
“So what you’re saying,” he said, “is she tried to set me up on that as well?”
8. The hero notary who is no longer a notary ☹️
How do prosecutors think they know Kane was lying about signing a secrecy oath? Some hero notary who came forward. And now she’s not a notary anymore because the experience was so traumatic.
Wanda Scheib, an executive assistant in the Office of the Attorney General since 1992, read a criminal complaint about her boss Kathleen Kane last August. In it, Kane told a grand jury she hadn’t signed what’s called a “secrecy oath” for the grand jury investigation that it’s been alleged she leaked information about. She said incoming attorneys general “wouldn’t” sign secrecy oaths for investigations that were before their time.
Scheib knew that wasn’t true. She had notarized secrecy oaths signed by Kane in relation to those past grand jury investigations — including the one that had Kane in hot water. So Scheib took what she knew to second-in-command Bruce Beemer.
“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 say something. Two months later, Kane was arrested a second time on additional charges after investigators found the log of those signed secrecy oaths thanks to Scheib’s tip.
Now? Scheib is still working in the Office of the Attorney General as an assistant like she has for more than 20 years. But she’s not a notary anyone. She didn’t want to bear that burden again.
9. The Mondesire investigation might’ve come out without a leak ?
Kane allegedly leaked the secret grand jury materials for a Daily News article that ran on June 6, 2014. But most of the information in that article — how Mondesire had allegedly diverted funds designated to the NAACP to his Next Generation charity — was already public. Now-defunct nonprofit news site Axis Philly published a story questioning whether Mondesire had done so in January 2014.
Not only that, Michael Miletto, an investigator with the AG’s office in 2014, said he was contacted by Isaiah Thompson, the author of the Axis Philly article. He testified in court he thought Thompson might’ve known about the grand jury investigation because the information in his article hewed so closely to what they had investigated about Mondesire.
So before the leak, the world already knew Mondesire was being accused of financial misdeeds. And without the leak, we all might’ve learned Kane’s predecessors at the Attorney General’s Office were investigating him but never charged him anyway.
10. In the end, they didn’t even like the story ?
Why’d Morrow leak the story to the Daily News in the first place?
“[Brennan is] a reporter that I’ve known for a number of years and am often a source for,” Morrow testified. “Considering that Kathleen [Kane] was at war with the Inquirer and it was sort of a Philadelphia-centric story, so there wasn’t a whole lot of other outlets.” (Except maybe Axis Philly, which was already investigating Mondesire, but we digress.)
But he and Kane weren’t thrilled with the story in the Daily News. Their whole point was to embarrass Frank Fina in the same way they thought he’d embarrassed them. The problem was: Kane looked bad because the Inquirer reported that she stopped an investigation that would have snared Democrats. She is a Democrat. That looks bad.
Fina, who long worked for Republicans, stopped an investigation into Mondesire, a Democrat, because…. Well, we don’t really know exactly. So yeah, you could say the story wasn’t as negative for one person as the Inky’s abandoned sting op investigation was for Kane.
“The article wasn’t that great of a written article,” Morrow testified. “It didn’t do the job. It was not the equivalent of the sting.”
After all that?
- Kathleen Kane’s defense rests without calling a single witness
- Before leaked documents appeared in newspaper, Kane texted consultant, ‘Where’s my story?’
- Kane trial bombshell: Consultant said attorney general orchestrated document leak
- A secretary blew the whistle on Kathleen Kane — now she’s not a notary anymore
- 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