Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane orchestrated an illegal leak to embarrass a critic and later lied about it under oath, according to a grand jury report made public Monday.
The panel found that Kane's testimony was "riddled with inconsistencies" and that she lied about virtually every aspect of the leak, from her motivation to what she knew about the leaked documents and to who else was involved.
In painting her as a liar, the grand jury relied on testimony from Kane's senior appointees, whose accounts were at odds with hers.
"We find that the testimony of Attorney General Kane was not an honest account of the events, and she mischaracterized events to cover up activities undertaken at her direction to unlawfully release documents subject to grand jury secrecy," the report stated.
It said she falsely portrayed her former first deputy, Adrian King Jr., as an eager accomplice - when testimony and e-mail evidence showed that King had opposed leaks.
The attorney general lied "to divert her attention from her actual role as the principal of the leak," the grand jury said.
The detailed report, secret until Monday, was handed over in December to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman with a recommendation from the grand jurors that she charge Kane with perjury, official oppression, and other crimes. Ferman, a Republican, is conducting her own review of the evidence.
Chuck Ardo, the new spokesman for Kane, said later Monday that Kane, a Democrat, was innocent and would not resign.
"The attorney general continues to believe the information that she authorized to be released was not covered by grand jury secrecy," Ardo said. "She testified truthfully, with that in mind."
Kane and her allies have said repeatedly that she was the victim of Republican judges and disgruntled former state prosecutors who quit when she took office.
To impeach Kane's honesty, the grand jury marshaled testimony from her senior aides Bruce Beemer and David Peifer, and from former key advisers King, Linda Dale Hoffa, and James Barker, whom Kane fired this month.
The release of the report was unexpected. Montgomery County Court Judge William R. Carpenter, the Republican who presided over the grand jury's six-month investigation of Kane, ordered that the 27-page report be made public Monday.
He did so almost immediately after lawyers for Kane and the special prosecutor, who directed the grand jury's probe of the attorney general, called for the presentment to be unsealed.
Kane lawyer Gerald Shargel and Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Carluccio appeared before Carpenter and two other judges in Norristown for a hearing over whether Kane should be held in contempt for firing Barker on April 8.
Kane said she fired him because he failed to plug unspecified grand jury leaks. But Carpenter ordered a hearing to determine whether the dismissal violated a protective order barring retaliation against witnesses.
The three judges ruled Monday that Ferman should fold Barker's firing into her overall review of the leak.
Kane's legal jeopardy stems from the handover of documents last year to the Philadelphia Daily News from a long-closed grand jury investigation of Philadelphia civil-rights activist J. Whyatt Mondesire. Kane has admitted approving the release of some documents, but said she did not violate the law in doing so.
The newspaper article based on the documents, published in June, suggested that Frank Fina, the state prosecutor then in charge of the attorney general's corruption investigations, had not pursued 2009 tips involving Mondesire.
Fina has denied that. Mondesire has denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with any crime.
Since Kane took office, she and Fina have been at bitter odds over past high-profile cases.
Their enmity grew after The Inquirer reported last year that Kane had secretly - under court seal - shut down a "sting" investigation begun by Fina that had caught elected Democrats from Philadelphia on tape accepting money. Kane blamed Fina for The Inquirer article, sources say.
The grand jury presentment said Kane perjured herself in denying that the leak was a strike back at Fina.
King, who resigned last year after serving 18 months as Kane's first deputy, testified that Kane engineered the leak "to retaliate" against Fina.
King told jurors that Kane became "fixated" on the Mondesire case. At one point, Kane told jurors, King walked into a meeting in which Kane was discussing the old probe with her driver and her new communications director, who King said had "absolutely no experience."
"They are literally sitting there just nodding their heads in agreement with everything that's being said," King testified. "And my reaction to that was, this is nuts; I don't want anything to do with it."
As The Inquirer has reported, the presentment said Kane committed perjury in testifying that she was unaware of two memos leaked to the Daily News.
In contrast, aides Beemer and Peifer, a top agent in the office, testified that they had discussed one of those memos with her. As for the other, Peifer testified that he gave Kane the only copy and that he watched her "flipping through it and looking at it."
The grand jury report was particularly sharp in criticizing Kane for dredging up the stale case involving Mondesire in a bid to attack someone else.
"Notwithstanding the potential impact to Mondesire, Attorney General Kane disregarded any such considerations and disclosed the secret information publicly for her own purposes," the report said.
Her treatment of Mondesire was an abuse of power that warranted a charge of official oppression, the grand jury said.
After the Daily News article was published, Kane's top aides recoiled, finding it an obvious leak of grand jury material, the presentment said.
But when they expressed their angst to Kane, "at no time did Attorney General demonstrate concern over the fact that documents were leaked," the report said.
Nor, the report said, did she tell aides that she was behind the leak.
"Don't worry about it. It's not a big deal," Kane told Beemer, who wanted to look into the matter, the jury recounted. "We have more important things to do."
Beemer, now Kane's top deputy, testified that he had assumed Kane would embrace the effort last year by Carluccio to dig into the leak.
What actually happened, he said, was that Kane called him and ordered him to try to stop the investigation.
"I was taken aback. . . . My heart stopped actually when she said that, because here I have for weeks been pledging my office's full cooperation," he testified, "and now my boss is telling me she wants me to try to stop it."
According to Beemer, he told Kane, "Frankly, I think you would want to know who in our office released this information . . . and I don't understand why we would be opposed to that."
That was the end of the conversation, he testified.