On last day in office, AG Kathleen Kane says she has 'no regrets'

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Kathleen G. Kane on Wednesday, her last as attorney general, two days after her conviction.

SCRANTON - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane seemed the picture of serenity Wednesday as she walked into her office for the last time as the state's top law enforcement official.

"I try to live my life without any regrets," Kane, who was convicted this week of perjury and other crimes, told reporters outside her Scranton office.

"I try to live every day like it's my last," she said. "I try to do the best job I can every day. And I have no regrets. I hope that people see that we've done our best. . . . And, you know, sometimes the price is high."

By day's end, Kane had stepped down from the job after a tumultuous tenure marked by missteps and petty personal vendettas that culminated with her conviction Monday for abusing the powers of her office.

A Montgomery County jury found that the 50-year-old Scranton Democrat orchestrated the leak of secret grand jury information to a newspaper to discredit a former state prosecutor, Frank Fina, whom she considered an enemy. Prosecutors said Kane acted out of revenge, believing that Fina had been the source for an Inquirer story that raised questions about her decision to shut down an undercover corruption probe.

When her actions sparked a criminal investigation, prosecutors told jurors, Kane staged a cover-up, plotting with a political consultant to lie about their roles in the leak and pin the release of confidential documents on a top aide with whom she had a falling-out.

Kane has said she believes Fina and others in what she has described as the state's "good old boy network" manufactured the case against her to prevent her from exposing a trove of pornographic emails she discovered on her office's computer servers. The emails were exchanged among prosecutors, agents, judges, defense lawyers, and others.

On Wednesday, Kane chose to spend her last hours in the small and less-hostile environment of her Scranton office rather the main office in Harrisburg, where aides packed up her things.

She said she wanted her legacy to be the work that her office did in stemming the flow of drugs in communities across Pennsylvania and getting child predators off the streets. She said she would like to continue such work at some point in her future.

She would not comment on the jury's verdict, saying only, "We still have legal issues going on." One of her lead lawyers, Gerald Shargel, has signaled that she intends to appeal.

Kane was unsuccessful in persuading the judge in her criminal case to allow her to use the pornographic email scandal in her defense. Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy rejected that request after prosecutors contended that it was a red herring intended to deflect from the real issues in the case.

"We have been denied the opportunity to mount a full defense," Shargel told reporters Monday night after the jury delivered its verdict. He later added: "We believe our defense was compromised, and we will fight that to the end."

Kane is to be sentenced Oct. 28 on two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor charges of abusing the power of her office. While the law permits a maximum sentence of up to 28 years, sentencing guidelines recommend that a judge stay within a range of punishment from probation to one year for a perjury conviction. In Kane's case, the judge would be free to make the sentences imposed for each perjury conviction consecutive.

It is not uncommon for people to be imprisoned for perjury convictions. According to the state Commission on Sentencing, of 32 perjury sentences imposed last year, judges gave at least some time behind bars to 24 of the defendants.

Despite her conviction and the looming sentencing hearing, Kane appeared calm and composed Wednesday.

"I want people to know that I'm OK and the boys are OK," she said of her two sons.

Asked about her last day in office, she said: "It's bittersweet. I loved my job. I'm proud of the work that we've done. But at the same time, it's time for me to focus on other things, and it's time for Pennsylvanians to continue to move forward."

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