Prosecutors: Kane abused power; Defense: aides leaked files, lied
Posted: Aug 15 2016 06:23AM EDT
Updated: Aug 15 2016 01:28PM EDT
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) -
A lawyer for Pennsylvania's attorney general said in closing arguments Monday at her perjury and obstruction trial that former top aides are to blame for the leak of grand jury evidence to a newspaper that embarrassed a rival prosecutor.
Seth Farber, who is representing Kathleen Kane, said the first-term Democrat felt the public should know her predecessor had failed to prosecute a case involving an NAACP official. He contended that top deputy Adrian King went beyond his authority to get the files to a reporter through Kane's political consultant.
The trial has pitted Kane against two former confidants who testified that she leaked grand jury evidence and lied about it under oath. If convicted of felony perjury, Kane could be sent to prison for up to seven years. The governor's office said Kane could remain in office if convicted while she appeals.
Prosecutors said Kane abused her power when she leaked secret criminal files to exact revenge.
They told jurors she passed the files through two former top aides to get them to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Chief deputy Adrian King and consultant Josh Morrow testified against Kane. Morrow says he conspired with Kane to frame King for the leak. And he acknowledges he lied to a grand jury about it. He was granted immunity for his testimony.
The defense says King and Morrow can't be trusted.
The tale of personal feuds and political gossip spun in the suburban Philadelphia courtroom last week often seemed petty. But there were times the testimony veered into what prosecutors called Kane's taste for "cloak-and-dagger" techniques.
"Revenge is best served cold. Her words," a prosecutor said in opening statements, nodding to Kane at the defense table.
Her political consultant described being taken by her security agents to a Philadelphia parking garage to be frisked for a wire -- and stripped of his wallet, cellphone and keys -- all so he could have lunch with Kane at a hotel.
They met to concoct a cover story for the grand jury, consultant Josh Morrow testified Thursday at the Montgomery County trial.
Whatever the trial's outcome, her 800-person agency has been in turmoil for the past two years, plagued by a revolving door of top managers; a special investigation of the leak that led up to the boss; and the deployment of Kane's driver to snoop through office emails and keep tabs on who was cooperating. Driver Patrick Reese is appealing a conviction for contempt of court for the computer searches.
Kane has battled back amid the furor, launching a probe of her own that led to two state Supreme Court justices stepping down. The first woman elected to the post, she publicized hundreds of offensive or mildly pornographic emails that were traded by what she called the "old boys network" of top lawyers and judges in state government.
The trial judge, though, barred her lawyers from mentioning the email scandal as a defense. Kane decided on Friday not to testify at her trial or put on any defense witnesses.
Kane has said she wasn't sworn to protect work from the 2009 grand jury probe of an NAACP leader because she was then a stay-at-home mother. However, prosecutors produced a secrecy oath she signed the day she took office. It covered 32 past grand juries, including the one that looked into the NAACP official's finances. Prosecutors say he became collateral damage in Kane's effort to embarrass the prosecutor who dropped the case.
King, a former law school boyfriend who later became one of her top aides, testified that he had agreed to pass a manila envelope from Kane's office in Harrisburg to Morrow's home in Philadelphia. He said he didn't know the envelope contained grand jury material, though Morrow disputed that. Morrow gave it to the Philadelphia Daily News, which worked on the story while Kane grew impatient, according to text messages shown in court.
"Where's my story? I'm dying here," Kane texted him.
The story ran in June 2014, and a special investigation into the leak soon followed. Kane, amid the criminal charges, did not run for re-election. She leaves office in January unless a conviction or statehouse impeachment forces her out sooner.