Pennsylvania attorney general arraigned on criminal charges

Pennsylvania attorney general arraigned on criminal charges
Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane arrives Saturday at the Montgomery County detective bureau in Norristown, Pa., to be arraigned on charges that she leaked secret grand jury material and then lied about it under oath. (Christopher Dolan / Times & Tribune)

Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane was arraigned Saturday on criminal charges including perjury and contempt of court, as officials throughout the state stepped up calls for her resignation.

The charges stemmed from an investigation that accused the attorney general of orchestrating the illegal disclosure of information and then lying under oath to conceal her wrongdoing.


According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kane offered one-word answers to the judge at the arraignment, and did not enter a plea during the proceedings. The newspaper also reported that Magisterial Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar scheduled a preliminary hearing for Aug. 24 and set bail at $10,000 unsecured.

"When someone entrusted with the solemn obligation to uphold the law deliberately violates the same laws she is sworn to uphold, we are all victims of this breach of the public trust," Montgomery County Dist. Atty. Risa Vetri Ferman said in a statement Thursday, the day charges were filed against Kane.

In a criminal complaint, the district attorney accused Kane of retaliating against two former officials who shared information that led to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which said Kane chose not to pursue the prosecutions of fellow Democratic politicians who had been caught in an undercover operation accepting bribes.

Prosecutors say Kane used back channels and a political operative to release confidential grand jury information she believed would embarrass the two officials, then tried to cover up her tracks.

A statement from the prosecutor's office listed the offenses as perjury, criminal conspiracy, official oppression, false swearing and obstructing administration of law or other governmental function.

Attorneys for Kane have maintained their client's innocence.

"We intend to enter a plea of not guilty," said attorney Gerald L. Shargel in a statement  Thursday. "Atty. Gen. Kane conspired with no one. At no time did she believe that she was asking or directing anyone to do anything improper or unlawful."

On Saturday, another attorney for Kane, Ross Kramer, said in an email that she had  "absolutely no plans to resign."

At a public event earlier this week Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, called on Kane to step down, saying that he did not think she could continue doing her job while facing charges.

"She is entitled to due process under our system of government and law, and she will have time to defend herself, and I think she needs to do that," Wolf said. "But in the meantime, I am calling on her to step aside."

The proceedings marked the second time this week that a state's highest-ranking law enforcement official was charged with wrongdoing.

On Monday, Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton was indicted on two counts of security fraud and one charge of failing to register as an investment advisor. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twitter: @natalieschachar