PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A once-rising star in Pennsylvania politics will learn Monday whether she is heading to prison over a feud that led the state attorney general to leak grand jury materials to the press and lie about it under oath.
Democrat Kathleen Kane, 50, argues that the loss of her career, law license and reputation is punishment enough. She has asked a judge in suburban Philadelphia to sentence her to probation or house arrest so she can be home to raise her two teenage sons.
However, prosecutors call her crimes “egregious” and will push for jail time. They say a paranoid Kane demeaned the 800-person office and threw the state’s law enforcement community into turmoil through a calculated scheme to embarrass a rival prosecutor who had left the office.
Kane “repeatedly misused her official authority to advance her personal vendettas,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, a fellow Democrat, wrote in a sentencing memo last week.
Kane’s fate will unfold in the same county where former President Bill Clinton had stumped for her in 2012, four years after Kane helped with Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid.
Kane enjoyed mostly good press early on as she supported gay marriage, ramped up a child predator unit run by her twin sister and questioned her predecessor’s handling of the Penn State sex-assault case.
But turmoil inside the office became apparent as top deputies and career prosecutors headed for the doors. Kane’s feud with one of them, Frank Fina, who had helped run the Penn State probe and other sensitive investigations, led to the leak.
Kane, taking aim at him, had her political consultant pass confidential files to a reporter about a corruption case Fina had declined to charge before he left the office. She then tried to frame someone else for the crime, former aides testified at the perjury and obstruction trial.
Kane did not testify at the August trial, when the jury convicted her on all nine counts before taking a meal break. Common Pleas Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy sharply warned Kane afterward that she would put her in jail if she tried to retaliate against anyone. The sentence could range from probation to a maximum 12 to 24 years in prison.
Kane overcame a difficult childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to put herself through college and law school. She worked as an assistant county prosecutor before a stint as a stay-at-home mother and community volunteer. She then used $2.25 million of her husband’s trucking fortune to run for attorney general. They are now divorcing. Kane expects to get $6 million in the divorce, and receives nearly $350,000 a year in alimony and child support while living in the family’s sprawling home in Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, according to local news reports that cite court filings.
Aside from the conviction, Kane’s political career will be remembered for her investigation of pornography that she said was being traded on state computers by judges, lawyers and other public employees. Two state Supreme Court justices resigned amid the fallout.
“She rose from poverty to a pinnacle, and has already fallen,” lawyer Mark Steinberg wrote in the defense sentencing memo. “She has been humbled and embarrassed, and now just wants to make amends and to focus her attention on raising her children.”
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