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State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, left, walks down a hall at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, in Norristown, Pa., where closing arguments are expected during her perjury and obstruction trial. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool)

 

 

(Norristown) -- State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been found guilty of leaking secret investigative material to get revenge on a political enemy and then lying about it under oath.

A jury of six men and six women in Montgomery County returned its verdict Monday night, just over four hours after beginning deliberations.

Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said she will jail Kane if she sees any sign of witness retaliation following Kane's conviction.

The judge also suggested Kane may be a flight risk and ordered her to surrender her passport Monday night.

Kane remains on personal recognizance bail pending a sentence expected within 90 days.

Her lead defense attorney, Gerald Shargel has vowed to appeal. "We have not lost our resolve," he said. "We will continue this litigation, we will continue this fight because we believe our client has been wrongfully, wrongfully accused of this conduct."

The first-term attorney general was convicted of official oppression, obstruction of administration of justice, conspiracy, false swearing and perjury.

Each of the two perjury charges carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

"What she did while she was attorney general -- the fact that she would commit criminal acts while she's the top prosecutor was a disgrace," said Bucks County prosecutor Michelle Henry, who aided the team in Montgomery County handling the case. Henry said was "offended" by Kane's actions.

It is not clear whether those who helped Kane leak the documents will also face charges. Two of them testified under immunity orders, while Adrian King, a former top aid, did not. 

An abuse of power

During closing statements, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said Kane abused her power as an elected official -- "power other people would not otherwise have," he said.

The defense urged jurors to look at her not as the state's chief law enforcement officer, but simply as "Kathleen Kane from Scranton."

Steele described Kane's actions as a war with several casualties, including former Philadelphia NAACP president J. Whyatt Mondesire who died last year. 

Kane leaked confidential documents about a 2009 grand jury investigation into Mondesire's finances. She was exacting revenge on Frank Fina, the former state prosecutor who led the Mondesire investigation, because she blamed Fina for planting a story about her in the Philadelphia Inquirer about killing a sting investigation of Democratic lawmakers. Kane wanted her own article to show Fina dropped the ball on the Mondesire case, prosecutors said.

Josh Morrow, a political consultant who helped run Kane's campaign in 2012, testified last week the attorney general asked him to give the documents to a reporter. He said he received the package from Kane's first deputy at the time, Adrian King, and passed them along to Philadelphia Daily News reporter Chris Brennan.

One month after Brennan's story ran in the newspaper in June 2014, Morrow said he and Kane met for lunch where they conspired to blame the leak on King.

King testified last week that Morrow and Kane were trying to frame him. He also claimed he did not know what was inside the package he gave to Morrow. 

Kane's defense attorneys said Kane wanted information about the failed Mondesire probe released to the public, but insisted she did not authorize putting out confidential documents to the press to that end.

The blame for that, the defense alleged, falls on Morrow and King, two men who had much to gain by minimizing their role in the scheme. 

"Those witnesses pointed the finger at each other and told lie after lie to protect themselves," defense attorney Seth Farber said.

"I submit you would not even buy a used car from either one of them," he said.

Steele said Kane's own text messages to Morrow prove she was aware of her wrongdoing, as did her reactions to the Philadelphia Daily News story.

While several top aides testified they were troubled by the article, Kane allegedly told one of them it was "no big deal."

"Who would say that other than a person who is responsible?" Steele said.

'A sad day for the commonwealth'

Once seen as a Democratic rising star, Kane has resisted calls by members of both parties to step down.

In a statement released after the verdict came down, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf again called on Kane to resign immediately.

"Today is a sad day for the commonwealth and the people of Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "Attorney General Kane has been convicted of serious charges. These are unbecoming of the commonwealth's top law enforcement officer."

The Pennsylvania Consitution requires Kane to step down when she is sentenced within the next three months. By then, Kane would be nearly finished her first term, which ends in January. She is not running for re-election this fall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.