NORRISTOWN >> One day after a jury labeled her a convicted felon, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Granahan Kane learned her fate will be sealed come October.
Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy on Tuesday set Kane’s sentencing hearing for 10 a.m. Oct. 24, giving county probation officials time to complete drug, alcohol and psychological evaluations of Kane. The judge will use those evaluations to assist her in fashioning a sentence against Kane.
Kane, 50, a first-term Democrat and the first woman ever to be elected to the state post, faces a possible maximum sentence of 14 to 28 years in state prison on felony charges of perjury and misdemeanor charges of obstructing administration of law, official oppression, false swearing and conspiracy. State sentencing guidelines could allow for less jail time for Kane, who has no criminal record.
A jury convicted Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor who was elected attorney general in 2012 and was considered a rising star among Democrats, of the charges late Monday after hearing five days of testimony, finding she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and then engaged in acts designed to conceal and cover up her conduct.
Meanwhile, Kane announced Tuesday that she will resign as attorney general at the close of business on Wednesday.
“I have been honored to serve the people of Pennsylvania and I wish them health and safety in all their days,” Kane said in a prepared statement.
After Kane’s conviction, numerous state legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf called upon Kane to resign, as did Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, a fellow Democrat, who is running to replace Kane in November’s election.
“This is a sad moment for our Commonwealth and now that the attorney general has chosen to step down we must work together to restore public trust in our democracy and ensure the people’s business — protecting consumers, fighting the heroin epidemic, and keeping our communities safe — comes first,” Shapiro said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.
The Republican candidate seeking to replace Kane — state Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr. — also released a statement.
“The only issue I have with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s decision to resign is that it is long overdue,” Rafferty said. “I have called and voted for Kathleen Kane’s removal months ago because of the serious nature of the charges she was facing, and more importantly because I knew the Office of Attorney General could not operate effectively under the weight of these many distractions.”
Kane, through her lawyer, also surrendered her passport at the county Clerk of Courts Office on Tuesday.
“It was surrendered to this office at 10:24 a.m. on Aug. 16 as directed by the order of Judge Demchick-Alloy,” a clerk in the office confirmed.
After Kane’s conviction, the judge ordered she surrender the passport by noon Tuesday as a condition of the own recognizance bail that will allow Kane to remain free while awaiting sentencing. Before dismissing Kane, the judge expressed her displeasure with Kane, while referring to trial testimony, bellowing that Kane left no one “minding the store” when Kane took a trip to Haiti in April 2014 with several other staffers.
The judge also ordered Kane not to retaliate against any witnesses who testified against her at trial, warning Kane her bail would be revoked and she’d be jailed if she disobeys the order.
District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said it was “a sad day for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania” when an attorney general is convicted “of crimes involving an abuse of power and lying under oath.”
But defense lawyer Gerald L. Shargel hinted at an appeal, saying Kane’s defense team would “fight to the end.”
Kane did not testify at trial.At trial, Steele and co-prosecutor Michelle Henry alleged Kane orchestrated the illegal release of secret materials pertaining to the 2009 statewide grand jury No. 29 to a reporter in order to exact “revenge” on a former state prosecutor with whom she was feuding.
Kane also was convicted of lying to the 35th statewide grand jury in November 2014 to cover up her leaks by lying under oath when she claimed she never agreed to maintain her secrecy regarding the 2009 grand jury investigation.
Prosecutors said they discovered evidence that Kane signed a so-called “secrecy oath” on her second day in office on Jan. 17, 2013, promising her secrecy for statewide investigating grand juries one through 32. The oath compelled Kane to maintain the secrecy of all matters occurring before past and present statewide grand juries, prosecutors alleged.
Kane claimed she did nothing wrong and has implied the charges were part of an effort to force her out of office because she discovered pornographic emails being exchanged between state employees on state email addresses.
However, a judge ruled Kane could not raise the pornographic email defense at trial. Defense lawyers hinted that might be the basis for an eventual appeal.