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Former Pa. Attorney General Sentenced To 10-23 Months In Jail For Perjury

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at Montgomery County courthouse for her scheduled sentencing hearing Monday in Norristown, Pa.
Matt Rourke
Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at Montgomery County courthouse for her scheduled sentencing hearing Monday in Norristown, Pa.

Pennsylvania's former attorney general, Kathleen Kane, has been sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail after she was embroiled in a scandal that shook the state's political establishment.

Kane, who was once viewed as a rising star within the Democratic Party, was "convicted on all nine counts – including perjury, obstruction and official oppression – in connection with a complicated case in which she leaked grand jury information about an investigation in retaliation against a political rival and then lied about it under oath," as The Two-Way has reported. She resigned from office a day after her conviction in August.

She was also sentenced to eight years of probation "by a Montgomery County judge who said Kane's ego drove her to take down enemies and break the law," as The Associated Press reported.

Here's more on the origins of this trial from The Two-Way:

"Kane has argued that the allegations against her were part of a high-stakes political feud involving charges that past prosecutors had mishandled the Jerry Sandusky molestation case. Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted in 2012 of molesting boys."

"Kane contends that when she investigated the case, she uncovered a trove of government email accounts in which high-level state officials traded pornography and bigoted jokes about women and minorities. However, the judge in her perjury trial did not allow the jury to hear about the email scandal."

This trial stems from a complicated political feud between Kane and Frank Fina, a former prosecutor at her office. According to the wire service, Kane "had a campaign consultant pass confidential files to a reporter about a corruption case Fina declined to charge before he left office. She then tried to frame someone else for the leak, aides testified at the perjury and obstruction trial."

During today's hearing, Kane "broke down in tears," and pleaded that the judge "consider her two teenage sons," as The New York Times reported.

She had argued that "the loss of her career, law license and reputation is punishment enough," as The Associated Press has reported. "She [had] asked a judge in suburban Philadelphia to sentence her to probation or house arrest so she can be home."

Ahead of today's sentencing decision, Kane told the AP that the long wait to learn her fate was like "watching the potential funeral of your own family."

Kane faced "a maximum sentence of between 12 and 24 years in state prison," PennLive has reported, though the judge had "the discretion to hand down a far shorter sentence."

But as she delivered Kane's sentence, Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said "any lesser sentence than total confinement will absolutely depreciate the seriousness of the crime. A violation of this magnitude and severity is an extraordinary abuse of the system," according to the Times.

Kane's career had skyrocketed when she was elected the state's attorney general less than four years ago. As the Times reported, she was seen as a "Democratic outsider with no political experience, vowing to shake to its foundations the state's male-dominated, corruption-prone political establishment that she mocked as 'the Harrisburg old boys.'"

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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