Kathleen Kane was convicted in August for illegally disclosing details from an investigation to embarrass a rival and lying about it under oath
The first Democrat and first woman to serve as Pennsylvania attorney general was sentenced to jail on Monday, completing a catastrophic fall from grace for a rising political star.
Former Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane, once seen as a potential future governor, was convicted in August of two felony counts and seven misdemeanors in her perjury trial. She resigned from her position two days later, having served since 2013.
Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail and eight years of probation by a Montgomery County judge who said Kanes ego drove her to take down enemies and break the law. If Kane posts bond of $75,000 cash bail, she will remain free while she appeals her conviction.
The jury at her criminal trial in August found her guilty of illegally leaking grand jury findings to the press to embarrass a political enemy. She then plotted a cover-up and lied about it under oath.
Kane, 50, was convicted of two felony counts and seven misdemeanors in her perjury trial. She resigned from her position two days later, having served since 2013.
Looking back at her swift downfall, Bruce Ledewitz, a law professor at Pittsburghs Duquesne University said: This illustrates once more, if anyone ever needed reminding, that the cover-up is worse than the crime.
Kane could initially have gotten away with a slap on the wrist for the leak itself, he told the Guardian.
The grand jury leak would have been a minor embarrassment if she had gone to court and apologized. But instead she started covering up, he said.
Kanes short reign was one of paradox.
And she took on a state criminal justice establishment she called the old boys club, including a crackdown after racist, sexist and pornographic emails were discovered being swapped on government computers.
But she also developed a reputation for grandiosity, score-settling and show-boating, some observers noted.
Her fall has been shocking. There was nothing on her track record to suggest that she was going to become corrupted by power. She came into that office as Bambi and turned into Richard Nixon overnight seeking to get even with political foe, Ledewitz said.
Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy said during sentencing that Kane assumed an off with your heads mentality as she ran the states top law enforcement agency. The judge called Kane a political neophyte who failed to make the transition from campaigner to public servant after she took office.
This case is about retaliation and revenge against perceived enemies who this defendant … felt had embarrassed her in the press, Demchick-Alloy said.
The former Penn State football coach was eventually convicted in 2012, found guilty of 45 counts of abusing young boys after a long grand jury probe had found crimes going back decades.
No politically motivated delays in the case were ever proved, but Kane became embroiled in feuds with Republican governor Tom Corbett, Sandusky prosecutor Frank Fina and others.
Harrisburg-based attorney Walter Cohen, a former attorney general, said Kanes motives were often just but her execution was heavy-handed and her style became grandiose.
She started to believe all the great things people were saying about her and believed she was indestructible, Cohen said.
Kane came under investigation in 2014.
But even as the perjury case was closing in on her, her team was working hard behind the scenes on a secret grand jury investigation into pedophile priests.
In the spring of 2016, Kane released a report exposing decades of monstrous child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Pennsylvania archdiocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
A series of other Pennsylvania archdioceses are now similarly under investigation.
Meanwhile Kane encouraged state lawmakers attempts to lift the statute of limitations so that more victims of child abuse could sue the church, despite those efforts being repeatedly thwarted by pushback from Catholic leaders.
Ironically, with her trial looming in 2016, Kane hired a Republican prosecutor, Bruce Castor, to, essentially, stand in for her. He was best known for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby a decade ago and was perceived by some as acting against the interests of victims of sexual violence.
Castor left shortly after Kanes conviction.
A new attorney general will be elected in November. The race, reportedly, has been lacking in drama.
Thats not a bad thing, Ledewitz said.