New judge assigned to Kane perjury trial in Montgomery County

In this Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, photo provided by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane appears in a booking mug taken in Norristown, Pa. Kane, the state’s first elected female attorney general, vows to fight perjury, obstruction and other charges for allegedly leaking secret grand jury material to embarrass rivals and then lying about it under oath. (Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office via AP)

NORRISTOWN >> Embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s trial on perjury-related charges will be overseen by a former female prosecutor turned judge who will take over the reins of the case from the county’s president judge.

Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy, a prosecutor for nearly two decades and a county judge since 2010, has been assigned to preside over Kane’s trial when it gets under way later this year, according to court records. The trial had previously been assigned to President Judge William J. Furber Jr.

Furber, according to a press release, determined that “increasing responsibilities” as president judge and “continued obligations” as supervising judge of the county’s Veterans’ Court, “will prevent him from devoting sufficient time to the proper handling of (the Kane) case.” Furber reassigned the trial to Demchick-Alloy.

A veteran prosecutor who began her career with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in the 1980s, Demchick-Alloy came to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in 1994 and while there headed sex crimes, led grand jury investigations and was chief of the major crimes unit.

With a reputation as a tough as nails prosecutor, who was often called “a pit bull in heels” by her colleagues, Demchick-Alloy left the district attorney’s office in October 2004 to devote more time to her family. However, the Villanova Law School graduate returned to the county in 2010 when she was elected a judge.

Demchick-Alloy has served in criminal and juvenile courts and has been the administrative judge of the juvenile division.

Kane, 49, a first-term Democrat, faces trial later this year on charges of perjury, obstructing administration of law, abuse of office and false swearing in connection with allegations she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of confidential investigative information and secret grand jury information to the media and then engaged in acts designed to conceal and cover up her alleged conduct.

With the charges, authorities alleged Kane released secret information about the 2009 Investigating Grand Jury No. 29 to a reporter at The Philadelphia Daily News in order to retaliate against a former state prosecutor, Frank Fina, with whom she was feuding and who she believed provided information to The Philadelphia Inquirer to embarrass her regarding a sting operation he was in charge of and which she shut down.

Kane also is accused of lying to the 35th statewide grand jury in November 2014 to cover up her alleged leaks by lying under oath when she claimed she never agreed to maintain her secrecy regarding the 2009 grand jury investigation.

County prosecutors alleged 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 has claimed she did nothing wrong and has implied the charges are part of an effort to force her out of office because she discovered pornographic emails being exchanged between state employees on state email addresses.

In the wake of the allegations, Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, called for Kane to resign, which she refused. The state Supreme Court placed a temporary suspension on Kane’s license to practice.

Kane, who is represented by defense lawyer Gerald Shargel, has continued to maintain her innocence and vowed to keep fighting to clear her name while serving out the remainder of her term. Kane is up for re-election this year.

The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and co-prosecutor Michelle Henry.

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