Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says despite the fact that her office has audio tapes documenting four state lawmakers and one judge committing crimes, she is defending her decision to drop a case investigating them.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Kane's move to abandon the case, which allegedly relied on one confidential informant to catch public officials in the act of accepting cash or gifts.
At a press conference Monday, Kane said the case was “unprosecutable,” chiefly because the confidential informant had himself worked out a deal with prosecutors that would have destroyed his credibility as a witness in court.
“This was a deal of the century,” Kane said. “Over 2,000 charges were dropped against this gentleman. He had absolutely no accountability after that. He was accused of stealing $430,000 worth of money from a nonprofit charity that fed poor children and seniors.”
Kane says after she was elected, but before she took office, state prosecutors agreed to drop charges against the confidential informant. As a result, Kane said, the informant’s credibility would have been “shot” as a witness before a jury.
“Did we have recordings? Yes we did,” Kane said. “But those recordings would not have been able to have been called into question because the only one who can verify those recordings was that C.I. and because that C.I. was tainted, those recordings may never have been able to come into court and this prosecution would have failed.”
Kane said the investigation was also mismanaged, failed to employ traditional investigative methods, and was, according to evidence she has not disclosed, racially targeted at black public officials.
The case began in 2010 under then-Attorney General Tom Corbett. It continued under two interim attorneys general (Bill Ryan and Linda Kelly) before Kane was elected to office. Kane pointed to the fact that none of them moved to press charges in the case, either. She said the investigation’s evidence was shared with an unnamed federal agency and a county district attorney’s office, both of which decided not to prosecute the case.
Kane said more than $20,000 was given to approximately eight people targeted in the investigation.
“I believe that we have evidence that certain legislators were taking money, and that’s a crime,” she said when asked. She added, when asked, that she would push for a state Ethics Commission investigation into those officials.
Kane said critics unnamed in Inquirer story are trying to discredit her office, but she doesn't know why.
“Sometimes, people get desperate, they use desperate measures,” Kane said.
Published in State House Sound Bitesback to top
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