Kathleen Kane defends handling of Philly politicians probe

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 17, 2014 5:50 AM

(Harrisburg) -- State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is defending her office's decision not to pursue criminal charges in an investigation into whether Democratic state lawmakers from Philadelphia accepted illegal payments.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported about the investigation.

Kane says the probe was determined to be seriously flawed after reviews by her office, an unnamed federal agency and Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico.

She told The Associated Press during an hour-long interview in her Harrisburg office Sunday that the investigation had become stale by the time he was handed over to her when she took office last year.

Kane also points to a deal to drop charges against the confidential informant used in the case as well as concerns there may have been some racial targeting.

Statement from Kane, released last night:

"The allegations made by several cowardly anonymous sources in today's Philadelphia Inquirer paint an inaccurate and sensational version of the details and timeline of events related to Case File No. 36-622. The real truth is that this investigation was not only deeply flawed, but unraveled long before I was elected and then took the oath of office.

"The majority of the work, including more than 91 percent of the recordings by a confidential informant, took place 18 months prior to my inauguration, through three former Attorneys General. Additionally, when prosecutors dismissed more than 2,000 serious charges of fraud that alleged their informant stole $430,000 meant for poor children and seniors, they crippled the chance of this case succeeding in prosecution.  Despite the case originating in 2010, this agreement to drop the charges was signed just 24 days after I was elected and weeks before I was sworn in.

"After a detailed review, we learned even more disturbing information regarding this case, including that there may have been a racial focus to the targets of the investigation, improper reporting, inadequate resources and inadmissible evidence.

"In addition, extremely alarming flaws were found in the management of the prosecution, including the failure of prosecutors to disclose the investigation to key immediate supervisors. Then-Chief of Staff Bruce Beemer was never informed of the investigation until I first learned of it on Jan. 17, 2013.

"Furthermore, I do not have any animosity towards the lead prosecutor of this case. I do not know the former prosecutor any more than I know the individuals targeted in this investigation. If the former prosecutor believes the case is strong enough to move forward, he currently has concurrent jurisdiction in public corruption matters.

"Prosecuting political corruption remains a top priority of my administration. The notion of elected officials accepting bribes or cash turns my stomach. It is unfortunate that the investigation was so botched that this case was found unable to be prosecuted not just by career professionals in my office but both federal authorities and Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marisco, a Republican.

"I stand solidly behind the decisions of my administration and assure the people of Pennsylvania that my office holds itself to a much higher standard of professionalism, prosecutorial discretion and respect for the civil liberties of all Pennsylvanians than apparently was displayed over the course of this investigation.

"My record speaks for itself that prosecutions have no political agenda. Of the 11 public corruption cases we have brought so far, the majority involve Democrats. I will not sit back and allow lies from those who seek to destroy the public's trust in me or my office."

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