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From friend to courtroom enemy, the odyssey of Kane's political consultant

For an isolated Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, political consultant Joshua Morrow may have been the ultimate frenemy. In a rapid-fire exchange of texts just before 10 p.m. one day in early 2014, Morrow told the embattled Kane: "It's time for your friends to fight back."

Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (left) and Josh Morrow, a witness for the prosecution in the Kane trial.
Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (left) and Josh Morrow, a witness for the prosecution in the Kane trial.Read moreAP

For an isolated Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, political consultant Joshua Morrow may have been the ultimate frenemy.

In a rapid-fire exchange of texts just before 10 p.m. one day in early 2014, Morrow told the embattled Kane: "It's time for your friends to fight back."

"I agree," Kane replied. "I wish they would."

"Happy to lead the charge," Morrow said.

That would be the same Josh Morrow who delivered devastating testimony against Kane last week as a prosecution witness at her criminal trial, saying she had been deeply involved in a plot to leak confidential grand jury documents and later conspired with him to pin the crime on a former aide.

On the witness stand, Morrow bluntly admitted his own guilt and vividly painted Kane as a remorseless lawbreaker.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers rested their cases Friday in Kane's trial on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction, and other crimes. Kane, 50, did not take the stand in her own defense, and her lawyers did not call a single witness to rebut the testimony of Morrow and 13 other government witnesses.

In closing arguments Monday, defense lawyers are expected to label Morrow and other key witnesses as liars, saying their lack of credibility means prosecutors have fallen short of meeting their burden of proof.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, will likely argue that their witnesses - along with emails, texts, an FBI wiretap, and other evidence - show that Kane orchestrated the unlawful release of confidential investigative documents. They say she did so by planting a newspaper story in a bid to embarrass a critic, former state prosecutor Frank Fina - and later lied about her actions under oath.

The June 2014 story in the Philadelphia Daily News, which was critical of Fina, was based on material provided to the newspaper by Morrow and Adrian King Jr., then Kane's second in command. Later, Morrow said, he and Kane conspired to blame King for the leak, agreeing to lie to hide their own roles.

Seth Farber, one of Kane's six lawyers, said Morrow had lied repeatedly - including after prosecutors gave him immunity from prosecution.

"Would it be fair to say, Mr. Morrow, that no matter what you've said, no matter how much you change your testimony, you don't get charged with a crime?" Farber asked.

"Correct," Morrow replied.


In opening arguments, Kane's legal team denied that she had set out to savage Fina, whom they described as a low-ranking prosecutor she had met only once.

But Morrow and other witnesses say Kane was obsessed with Fina, blaming him for a March 2014 article in the Inquirer disclosing that she had secretly shut down an undercover corruption investigation that had caught Philadelphia elected officials on tape accepting cash. Fina led that probe.

"She was just hell-bent on getting back at Frank Fina," Morrow testified.

On the stand, Morrow, 43, came across as earnest and unguarded, regretful about his own conduct. He was "embarrassed," he said, as he admitted lying to grand jurors and investigators.

"The reality is, I lied in the grand jury," he said. "I was given an opportunity to come back in and tell the truth, and I did."

Morrow has worked for Democratic candidates up and down the East Coast. In his testimony, he called his work on Kane's 2012 landslide victory a "crowning achievement" of his 18 years in politics.

He switched from political adviser to clandestine courier in the spring of 2014, not long after the Inquirer story on the aborted undercover sting operation. Prosecutors described the article as the first major negative press Kane had received since taking office.

In April of that year, Morrow testified, she called him to ask him to deliver leaked investigative documents to a reporter. He said she told him the documents showed that Fina had failed to aggressively pursue an investigation of Philadelphia civil rights leader J. Whyatt Mondesire.

In a stroke of bad luck for Kane, Morrow called a friend that evening to gossip about Kane's request - a friend whose phone was being secretly tapped by the FBI. The wiretap, obtained as part of a separate corruption investigation, was later turned over to prosecutors in Kane's case and played while Morrow was on the stand.

On the tape, Morrow calls Kane "unhinged" and says he is not happy about being a deliveryman.

"Why . . . do I want to get in the middle of this?" he asked at one point.

"There's not going to be anything good that comes of that," his friend said.

"I don't want to be the source for like junk that, you know, comes back on my ass," Morrow said later in the call.

At another point, he asked why Kane didn't handle the leak herself, saying, "If you got documents, you f- leak them."

Still, Morrow delivered the documents. Prosecutors say Kane ordered the leak, and King drove the documents from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and passed them on to Morrow, who later gave them to the Daily News reporter.

King has said he had no idea he was transporting confidential grand jury material, though Kane's defense team has raised doubt about that.

As they waited for the Daily News to publish the story, Kane and Morrow exchanged gleeful texts. "Time for Frank to feel the heat," Morrow said shortly after delivering the material to the newspaper.

The following August, things turned sour.

Kane contacted Morrow so they could have lunch in Center City. Before they met, he said, two members of her security detail picked him up on a street corner; drove him to a parking lot; took his cellphone, keys, and wallet; and searched him with a security wand to make sure he wasn't wearing a body wire.

At the lunch, Kane told Morrow the leak to the Daily News was under investigation by a grand jury.

"I was a little bit shell-shocked," Morrow testified. "I didn't want to be dragged before a grand jury."

At their lunch, Morrow said they agreed to a lie: They would say it was King, not Kane, who briefed him on the documents before he gave them to the reporter. He and the attorney general "conspired to create this story that wasn't true," Morrow testified.

Why did he lie about Kane?

"She's a friend," Morrow said.

At the lunch, Kane seemed largely unfazed by the looming investigation, Morrow said.

'I need help'

By the fall, he said, the attorney general was "frantic" when Morrow drove two hours to meet her at a public park near her home outside Scranton. Kane's security team met him before this meeting and drove to the home of one of the officers, where Morrow again was searched and ordered to turn over the same personal items.

At the park, he said, Kane seemed at wit's end. "I need help. I need help," she told him. "I need someone to help me."

By his account, what Morrow did to help Kane was lie - misleading grand jurors and prosecutors investigating the leak.

In his grand jury testimony, Morrow said, he told a cover story that on the night of the document transfer, "I had a lengthy conversation with Adrian King and he walked me through the documents."

Prosecutors punctured that account with phone records, none of which showed a lengthy call from King.

As pressure grew, Morrow began mixing truth with lies.

"I still wanted to protect Kathleen," he said. "I recognized that the lie was starting to unravel."

According to court documents, Morrow stuck to his lies about Kane and King at his first two grand jury appearances in late 2014.

By his third, in early 2015, he abandoned his attack on King but still sought to look out for Kane, pleading the Fifth Amendment to decline to answer questions about her.

But the special prosecutor in the case, Thomas Carluccio, won a quick ruling from the state Supreme Court that stripped away Morrow's ability to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination.

This left Morrow without a shield. By mid-2015, he had given detectives new information to impeach Kane, though not with the richness of detail he provided on the stand last week.

By 2015, Morrow had grown cold to his former friend. In a text he sent that year to an old political client, Morrow had a distinctly hostile view of the attorney general.

"I hope," he texted, "she goes away."

215-854-4821 @CraigRMcCoy