NORRISTOWN — A Montgomery County jury today found Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane guilty of all criminal charges against her including perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of office in a decision likely to reverberate across the state’s political and judicial circles.
The jury of six men and six women took just four and a half hours to render its verdict after the weeklong trial — at which Kane’s defense offered no witness testimony, and told the jury that they should not trust two of her closest political confidants who testified against her.
According to Pennsylvania state law, Kane must resign as attorney general, but does not have to do so until sentencing. Her lawyers said the issue of when to resign will be addressed within the next several days, and they’ve already laid the groundwork for an appeal. Kane was convicted on two felony counts of perjury and could face years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines.
Kane will remain free on bail, but Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy required Kane surrender her passport and made it a condition of Kane’s bail that she cannot retaliate against anyone involved in the case against her. Demchick-Alloy told Kane: “If it comes to this court’s attention that there is any kind of retaliation from you… you are incarcerated immediately as a result of a bail condition violation.”
Prosecutors in Montgomery County said Kane, once a rising star in the Democratic party tied to Bill and Hillary Clinton, lied about leaking secret grand jury documents to the Philadelphia Daily News to exact revenge on a former Office of the Attorney General employee she was feuding with.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Kane started a “war,” adding that “wars have casualties. Wars leave scars.” Meanwhile, her defense attorneys pinned the leak on two former aides who testified against her.
This started in March 2014 when Kane apparently thought attorney Frank Fina planted a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer that detailed a sting operation shut down by Kane that would have ensnared six Philadelphia Democrats. At the time, Kane said the case was unwinnable. Since then, District Attorney Seth Williams took over the case and has won five of six convictions.
But the Inquirer story proved to be Kane’s first taste of bad press. And she reportedly thought Fina leaked that story to the Inky because she campaigned on the idea that she was going to investigate the Jerry Sandusky probe, which was headed up by Fina and co.
So, prosecutors alleged, she worked with two top confidants — a former first deputy attorney general and her ex-political consultant — to leak out documents related to an abandoned 2009 investigation that Fina was in charges of. That investigation looked into the finances of J. Whyatt Mondesire, the late former head of the Philadelphia NAACP. Mondesire was never charged with a crime.
In June 2014, Daily News reporter Chris Brennan authored a story outlining the investigation that was written largely off of two grand jury-related documents, being a memo about the abandoned investigation and a transcript between two agents discussing why the investigation wasn’t pursued.
The star witness for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office was Josh Morrow, the former political consultant who detailed his close friendship with Kane and admitted to being the source for the story Brennan authored.
Morrow testified that in April 2014, he got a call from Kane telling him that her first deputy Adrian King had some documents to leak to a friendly reporter. The next morning, Morrow said, he picked up the memo and the transcript from King’s home. Several weeks later he gave the paperwork to Brennan.
The night before Morrow picked up the documents from King, he made a call to a friend to ask for advice, and though Morrow didn’t know it, that call was being tapped by the FBI in an unrelated investigation.
“So Kathleen called me today… and was like Adrian [King] has documents for you to leak out,” Morrow said over the phone, continuing: “and all this bullshit about Frank Fina shutting down a Jerry Mondesire investigation.”
Between then and when the story eventually ran in June, Kane and Morrow also exchanged a series of text messages presented by prosecutors.
At the beginning of May 2014 after Morrow had already passed the Mondesire documents to Brennan, he and Kane texted about “revenge” and, during that conversation, Morrow texted Kane, “time for Frank to feel the heat.”
Later that month, Kane texted Morrow “Where’s my story?” The two also texted on June 5, the day before the story ran, about how it would be “a bad day for Corbett and company.” Fina worked under former Gov. and then-Attorney General Tom Corbett.
But Kane’s team of defense attorneys put the onus on Morrow and King, saying Kane wanted the public to know about the Mondesire investigation but didn’t authorize the leaking of secret grand jury documents.
They backed that up by pointing out that Isaiah Thompson, a former reporter with the now-defunct Axis Philly, was asking the Office of the Attorney General a question about the investigation into Mondesire before the alleged leak out of Kane’s office took place.
Her defense attorney Seth Farber said during his closing argument that Kane wanted the public to know the Mondesire investigation was shut down by her predecessors and not her. So, they said, she enlisted Morrow to communicate that with members of the press because the attorney general’s press office was “dismantled” at the time.
In May 2014, Fina, who had begun work at the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney, found out the Daily News was working on a story about the Mondesire investigation. So Fina and Marc Costanzo, another attorney with whom Fina worked closely, went to Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter to ask him to open a grand jury investigation into where the leak came from.
Prosecutors in Montgomery County say Kane lied on multiple occasions when she testified before the grand jury, including when she said she had “never” seen the 2009 memo that was leaked to the Daily News and that she hadn’t signed secrecy oaths related to the Mondesire grand jury investigation.
In fact, as a notary testified, Kane had signed such secrecy oaths. They were seized by investigators and served as the basis for additional perjury charges filed against Kane.
Kane’s term ends in January and she’s currently operating under a suspended law license.
- Prosecutor: Kathleen Kane is a casualty of the ‘war’ she started
- Kathleen Kane’s defense: Those former aides aren’t trustworthy
- 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