A judge sentenced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Monday to 10 to 23 months in prison for committing multiple felonies stemming from a politically motivated act of retribution.
Kane, who resigned after her conviction of perjury and obstruction in August, also will be on probation for eight years following her release, according to Kim Bathgate, spokeswoman for the Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
Kane, a Democrat who was elected in 2012, faced a possible 12-24 years in prison, according to Kate Delano, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
Before the sentencing, Kane testified on her own behalf, asking the judge to have mercy for the sake of her two teenage children.
“I really don’t care what happens to me,” Kane, 50, said, CNN affiliate WTAE reported.
An attorney representing Kane told CNN affiliate KYW that she has deep remorse for violating the trust of Pennsylvania residents. The attorney argued a prison sentence wouldn’t be necessary because the loss of Kane’s position and law career was punishment enough.
Prosecutors, however, said that her crimes — which they say have tarnished the attorney general’s office and ruined an activist’s life in the process — warranted time behind bars.
Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy handed down the sentence after several hours of testimony, CNN affiliate KPVI reported.
Kane was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and taken to Montgomery County jail after her sentencing, KYW reported. She posted a $75,000 cash bail and remains free while she appeals, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.
The charges had alleged that Kane acted in anger about a local newspaper article that accused her of dropping an investigation into politicians accepting bribes. To get back at her predecessors, the complaint said Kane leaked sealed, confidential grand jury documents to the media and then lied under oath.
A political act of retribution
Four years ago, Kane, a former assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County, defeated Republican David Freed as a political rookie.
State Democrats quickly pegged Kane as one of the party’s rising stars. But halfway through her term, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story with the headline: “Sources: Kathleen Kane shut down probe of Philly Democrats.”
That’s where the trouble started. The article outlined an investigation launched by Kane’s predecessor, former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank G. Fina, into politicians caught in a sting accepting local bribes. In emails cited in the complaint, an irate Kane vowed to wage “war” with Fina, a criminal complaint later said.
After the article, Kane leaked sealed, confidential grand jury documents conducted under Fina that looked into whether J. Wyatt Mondesire, the former leader of the NAACP’s Philadelphia chapter, misused grant money, the complaint said. Fina’s investigation never led to criminal charges against Mondesire, the complaint said.
‘No one is above the law’
In August 2015, then-Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, a Republican, filed charges against Kane. Ferman accused the then-attorney general of secretly leaking documents “in the hopes of embarrassing and harming former state prosecutors whom she believed, without evidence, had made her look bad.”
Ferman also alleged that Kane after had lied under oath to a grand jury about leaking the grand jury documents to reporters in order to cover her tracks.
Kane, though, strongly denied the allegations ahead of the trial — even as Democrats like Gov. Tom Wolf urged her to resign.
“A resignation would be an admission of guilt and I’m not guilty,” Kane said in a statement in August ahead of her trial.
A jury found Kane guilty of felony counts of perjury and obstruction. She resigned that same week.
“It seemed that we had somebody who felt that she was above the law, and that’s not the case because no one is above the law,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said following the trial. “We are a very honorable profession here. We have rules that we have to abide by and there are no exceptions to that.”
Wolf nominated Bruce Beemer, a former Kane deputy who testified against her, to become attorney general.
Prosecutors: Kane should go to jail
On Monday, Judge Demchick-Alloy weighed whether Kane would serve time behind bars, remain under house arrest or simply get probation.
In Kane’s sentencing memo, her attorney argued to the judge that the former attorney general has been punished enough since she had to step down from elected office and could be disbarred given her status as a now convicted felon. In addition, prosecutors said Kane, who wants to focus on parenting her two teenage sons, was not at risk of re-offending, nor was she a threat to society.
But Steele wrote in a sentencing memo that Kane deserved prison since she eroded the public’s confidence in the attorney general’s office, according to KYW. Beyond that, Steele noted that Mondesire, who was never charged of a crime, had lost his job, saw his health decline, and died nearly two years later.
“During her tenure as attorney general, Kane behaved in a paranoid manner and repeatedly misused her official authority to advance her personal vendettas,” Steele wrote in a sentencing memo, according to the The Legal Intelligencer.
The race for the AG’s office
Pennsylvania residents will soon get a chance to decide who permanently replaces Kane when they elect a new attorney general next month.
Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who chairs the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is running against state Sen. John Rafferty, a Republican from Montgomery.
The election will occur statewide on November 8.