Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman is investigating charges AG Kane fired Attorney James Barker as retaliation against Barker for testifying against her.
Paul Gordon Collier- Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is under further investigation related to the firing of one of her attorneys, James Baker, a key witness in other allegations against Kane being investigated.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has announced she will be investigating that firing. The Montgomery County district attorney is already investigating Kane after a grand jury recommended indicting Kane on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Those recommended indictments came after a grand jury was called to investigate a 2009 case being prosecuted by Kane. The allegations were that Kane provided confidential information to a newspaper to target her political opposition.
Ferman was handed the task of investigating Kane by then PA Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille because the place where the grand jury would be convened was located in her county. The grand jury was investigating a 2009 case where it was alleged Kane leaked grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News.
From our article on December 19th, 2014:
State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown, 48, and Ronald G. Waters, 64, were under investigation for allegedly taking bribes. When the case was presented to Kane, she dismissed it as “half-a$%ed” and “dead on arrival.’
The State Reps were caught on tape accepting money in what appeared to be payment for political favors. Both Representatives are African-American.
Democrat Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, (in December 2014), accused Kane of being irresponsible, of accusing the investigation of being racist in nature without offering any evidence as proof. He made this statement at a press conference announcing his intention to prosecute both Brown and Waters on bribery charges.
According to DA Williams, the lawmakers have admitted to a grand jury that they did, in fact, accept payment in exchange for political favors. Waters admitted to accepting $8,750 while Brown admitted to taking $4000.
The leaked information was related to an investigation into former NAACP head J. Whyatt Mondesire. The leaked information, it is alleged, was intended to embarrass the prosecutor of the investigation into Brown and Waters by showing that he was not a competent prosecutor. The case against Mondesire was dropped.
This was a statewide grand jury than came back with indictments on perjury and obstruction of justice. The case was handed over to Ferman for investigation. These indictments occurred in the beginning of January of this year.
Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Carluccio had been investigating Kane over the leaked information since June of last year. Carluccio called on the grand jury to investigate the leak, which was approved by then Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille at the request of William R. Carpenter, a Montgomery County Court judge.
The grand jury made this statement at the time of the indictments, “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 grand jury further elaborated that the testimony provided by the Attorney General was “riddled with inconsistencies, and demonstrated conduct that was clearly inconsistent with the evidence presented to this grand jury.”
One of the key witnesses in the case is Attorney James Barker, who, up until April 8th, worked in the PA District Attorney’s office. Baker was fired by Kane, which set off allegations that this was a political firing to punish Baker for testifying against Kane.
On Monday, a Montgomery County Judge ordered the grand jury investigation to be unsealed. That unsealing has revealed more potential issues for Kane. A key point is what the unsealed documents reveal about how significant the testimony of Kane’s own staff, including Barker, was to help special prosecutor Thomas Carluccio in his investigation of the embattled DA.
Barker, along with 6 other members of Kane’s office testified that the information provided to the Philadelphia Daily News was secret information.
Kathleen Kane’s lawyer, Lanny J Davis, former special council to President Bill Clinton, stated in January, “The attorney general has done nothing wrong or illegal and, to my knowledge, there is no credible evidence that she has. She told the truth to the grand jury at all times. I hope the district attorney will reach same conclusion.”
Kane has claimed that while she approved for some information to be released to the Daily News, the secret information was not approved by her, but released in error by one of her unnamed staff members.
Here is the official statement from Fermon’s office, “The District Attorney’s Office will conduct this investigation, along with an on-going investigation into other alleged conduct of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, which was authorized after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s March 31, 2015 ruling. These inquiries will be conducted using standards and procedures that reflect an ethical prosecutor’s responsibilities as a minister of justice. As in any case, upon completion of our independent factual investigation, we will make charging decisions based upon a fair analysis of the applicable legal standards with a focus on the Commonwealth’s proper burden of proof at trial, beyond a reasonable doubt. The District Attorney’s Office will have no further comment on this matter until such time as a decision has been made on the investigation.”
So far, District Attorney Ferman has not chosen to file criminal charges against Kane, but the investigations continue.