Pennsylvania attorney general stepping down after conviction

August 16, 2016 11:24 AM EDT

File photo of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane congratulating Governor Tom Wolf following his inauguration ceremony at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Makela


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By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced her resignation on Tuesday, one day after a jury convicted her of perjury for leaking sealed grand jury material to a reporter.

"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 statement.

She faces up to seven years in prison on the most serious charge when she is sentenced on Oct. 24.

In a statement, Governor Tom Wolf said, "Her decision to resign is the right one, and will allow the people of Pennsylvania to finally move on from this situation."

The resignation capped a dramatic fall for Kane, who was once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party after becoming the first woman elected Pennsylvania attorney general in 2012.

A jury in Norristown found her guilty on Monday of leaking information to a reporter in an effort to embarrass a rival prosecutor.

The weeklong trial followed a years-long political scandal that included the Jerry Sandusky molestation case, allegations of misconduct and pornographic emails.

Prosecutors said Kane was incensed by a 2014 newspaper article that said she had shut down a corruption investigation into Philadelphia officials.

Convinced that former state prosecutor Frank Fina was the story's source, Kane tried to turn the tables by leaking information about an investigation into a local NAACP official that he chose not to pursue, prosecutors said. Kane was accused of subsequently lying about the leak to a grand jury.

Kane had said the charges were brought to stop her from revealing lewd emails exchanged among judges, state officials and prosecutors that she discovered while re-examining the Sandusky investigation.

The release of some emails caused several officials, including two state Supreme Court justices, to lose their jobs in a scandal dubbed Porngate. But a judge barred Kane's lawyers from mentioning the emails during her trial.

Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 boys.

Kane's deputy, Bruce Castor, will take over as acting attorney general.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Castor, a Republican, declined to comment on the verdict, saying he had avoided reading about the case in order to prevent conflicts of interest.

"I came to like and respect Attorney General Kane," he said. "She is not a lawyer to be trifled with. If there is a Mr. Hyde to her Dr. Jekyll, I haven't seen it."

(Writing by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Alan Crosby and Jonathan Oatis)



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