HARRISBURG - In one of his first acts as Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Bruce Beemer has fired two of his predecessor's most controversial hires.
Jonathan Duecker, the former chief of staff to Kathleen Kane, and Patrick Reese, Kane's onetime security chief and driver, were terminated Thursday morning, said Jeff Johnson, the office's spokesman. Johnson would not say why the two were dismissed.
But the move wasn't unexpected after Kane's resignation and conviction last month on perjury and obstruction charges.
Duecker and Reese were two of her closest confidants, and remained so even as she became increasingly isolated politically and as her tenure became awash in suspicion, backbiting and petty plots for revenge.
Neither could be reached for immediate comment.
Still unclear is whether Beemer intends to keep Bruce L. Castor Jr. at the agency. Kane hired Castor in March and quickly promoted him to be her second-in-command. When she resigned, Castor became the state's acting attorney general.
In an interview this week, Castor would not say whether he and Beemer had discussed if he would stay at the office. He said it was Beemer's decision to discuss his plans for his administration.
Kane promoted Duecker as her chief of staff last year despite allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances at two female employees. Kane promoted him even though her own human resources department had recommended she fire him.
The episode led to a lawsuit the Attorney General's office agreed this summer to settle for $150,000. The suit was filed by a former top human-resources official who said he was wrongfully fired recommending that Duecker be fired over the sexual-harassment complaints.
In his lawsuit, George Moore said that a female deputy attorney general had accused Duecker of improperly touching her while they were at a bar in Hazleton in 2014. The prosecutor had witnesses to back up her account, Moore said.
According to Moore, a female narcotics agent also accused Duecker of sexual harassment. She said that Duecker "hit on her" at a Christmas party in Hazleton in 2014 and later entered her bedroom while she was asleep and stood over her bed, "creeping her out." Moore acknowledged that he never interviewed Duecker to get his account of the incidents. A spokesman for the office has said that Duecker disputes the women's accounts.
Reese was charged along with Kane last summer for snooping on his colleagues' emails in an effort to learn about the criminal investigation of his boss. He was convicted of contempt and sentenced to three to six months in prison.
But Kane had allowed him to keep his $99,658-a-year position while he appeals his conviction, despite an internal policy that calls for the suspension of employees charged with crimes involving their official duties.
A jury last month found that Kane, a Democrat, had leaked confidential grand jury information to a newspaper in a bid to discredit a former prosecutor in the office who she perceived as her enemy, and later lied about her role in the leak while under oath.
She is to be sentenced in late October.