HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf on Tuesday appointed Bruce Beemer, a top deputy to embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, as the state's next inspector general.

In his new job, Beemer, a longtime prosecutor and Kane's estranged first deputy, will replace Grayling Williams, another onetime Kane aide who is leaving the Wolf administration for a law enforcement job outside Pennsylvania.

"Bruce Beemer has earned a reputation across the commonwealth as a tough prosecutor, effective administrator and thoughtful legal mind," Wolf said in a statement. "He has taken on public officials at all levels and worked to root out corruption in government."

Beemer, 47, is the lead prosecutor in the case against three former Pennsylvania State University administrators accused of covering up child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university. Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, who worked with Beemer on the case, will step up to fill that role.

Beemer also is a key witness against Kane at her August criminal trial and has been locked in a tense relationship with her for more than a year. His testimony, along with that of several other high-ranking Kane staffers, helped build the criminal case she now faces. Beemer was also among four top lawyers in the Attorney General's Office who were called to testify last year before a Senate committee that was investigating whether to remove Kane from office.

Kane, 50, is charged with perjury, conspiracy, and other crimes for allegedly leaking confidential information to a Philadelphia newspaper in a bid to embarrass a former prosecutor in her office with whom she was feuding. Prosecutors allege that Kane then lied about her role in the leak when questioned about it under oath.

Shortly after the charges were announced, her law license was suspended.

Kane has pleaded not guilty. She has contended that her legal troubles were caused by a "good old boys' " network within the criminal justice system incensed at her decision to expose pornographic and offensive emails that were exchanged by prosecutors, judges, and other law enforcement officials. Her trial is to begin Aug. 8.

According to court documents, Beemer told the grand jury that investigated Kane that when he saw the newspaper article containing the alleged confidential information, he told Kane that the office should investigate what he viewed as a leak.

"Her response to me was, 'Don't worry about it,' " Beemer testified. " 'It's not a big deal. We have more important things to do.' "

After she came under scrutiny for the leak, Beemer told the grand jury, Kane made a statement to him that he interpreted as a threat to fire any staff members who cooperated with the investigation. The statement: "If I get taken out of here in handcuffs, what do you think my last act will be?"

Before joining the Attorney General's Office, Beemer worked in the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office, prosecuting cases within its narcotics and homicide trial units, and later supervising its trial and appeals units. He later went into private practice, focusing on environmental cases and white-collar criminal defense.

He joined the Attorney General's Office under Kane's predecessor, Linda Kelly. When Kane took office in January 2013, she kept him on as her chief of staff and later made him her first deputy.

Beemer's first day heading the Inspector General's Office, which seeks to root out waste and corruption in state government, will be July 25. He will be paid $145,000.

acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934 @AngelasInk