Kane lawyer's plea for probation: 'She has already fallen'

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, 50, is scheduled to be sentenced in Norristown on Monday before Common Pleas Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy after a jury convicted her in August of perjury, official obstruction and other crimes.

Lawyers for former state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane are asking a Montgomery County judge to sentence her to probation for perjury and other crimes, saying that she spent her life in public service before her "tremendous fall from grace" and that she feels "deep regret" for betraying the public trust.

"She rose from poverty to a pinnacle, and she has already fallen," lawyer Marc Steinberg wrote in a 107-page memo, filed Tuesday, that includes 29 letters of support from Kane's family members, friends, and former colleagues.

Steinberg said the letters on Kane's behalf show "a life dedicated to merciful acts. She now asks for mercy in return."

Prosecutors are seeking a prison term for Kane, 50, a Democrat convicted in August of perjury, official obstruction, and other crimes. She is scheduled to be sentenced Monday by County Court Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy in Norristown.

The jury found her guilty of abusing her office by orchestrating an illegal leak of grand jury materials and then lying about it under oath. She leaked the secret information in an act of revenge against a former state prosecutor, Frank Fina, who she believed was trying to destroy her career. Kane resigned two days after she was convicted.

Prosecutors have argued that she has shown no remorse since her conviction, and have asked Demchick-Alloy to impose a "significant and stiff" prison term. They have cited Kane's comments on her last day in office, when she told reporters that she had "no regrets" about her tenure.

They have also pointed to Kane's interview with presentencing investigators, during which she said she was doing the job she was elected to do and made "a 30-second decision" that led to her conviction.

In his request Tuesday for probation, Steinberg painted a different picture of Kane, as a kind and compassionate woman who grew up with few material means but with a deep-seated desire to work hard and make something of her herself.

His filing, as well as the letters from supporters asking the judge for leniency, detail her rise from a working-class family in Scranton to the first woman elected to serve as Pennsylvania's attorney general.

Kane's mother, Ellen Gordon, wrote that she and her family learned early on that "if we stuck together, took care of each other, no matter what the circumstances, that if we trusted, had faith and worked very hard . . . never gave in or gave up, we would survive every challenge handed to us."

A prison sentence, Gordon wrote, would be devastating to Kane's teenage sons, Christopher and Zachary. Kane shares custody with her husband, from whom she is locked in a divorce proceeding.

"Christopher, Zachary, and Kathleen have a very special bond," Gordon told the judge in a five-page, handwritten letter. "They rely on her solely to keep them safe and share with her their thoughts and fears. . . . I live in total fear of the effect being separated from Kathleen will have on them."

She added: "The option for their care is unacceptable."

Kelly E. Hadley, a lawyer and friend of Kane's, wrote in her letter that the former attorney general is "the glue that holds the family together."

Prosecutors have noted that Kane's crimes carry a potential maximum term of 12 to 24 years in prison. Steinberg suggested probation would be sufficient.

"She has been humbled and embarrassed," he wrote, "and now just wants to make amends and focus her attention on raising her children."

llmccrystal@phillynews.com

610-313-8116 @LMcCrystal

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