Pennsylvania's top prosecutor arraigned, no plea entered

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 08, 2015 10:55 AM

By David DeKok

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane appeared before a magisterial district judge on Saturday via video conference to face charges including criminal obstruction relating to a leak about a rival.

Kane, 49, who in 2012 became the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top prosecutor, has vowed to fight the charges, though she would have to step down if convicted.

Kane did not enter a plea in the proceedings, which lasted about five minutes, and was released on an unsecured $10,000 bail by Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar.

A preliminary hearing has been set for Aug. 24.

Kane, smiling and wearing white, entered the Montgomery County Detective Bureau in Norristown for processing but did not speak to waiting reporters, according to local media reports. A lawyer representing Kane told reporters she was innocent and would not resign.

Criminal charges filed on Thursday include obstructing administration of law or other government function, official oppression, criminal conspiracy, perjury and false swearing.

A special grand jury in January recommended charges of perjury and obstruction against Kane in connection with a leak to a Philadelphia newspaper of confidential information about a political rival.

The charges stem from her feud with Frank Fina, a prosecutor for the former attorney general, Republican Tom Corbett, over alleged delays in pursuing child sex abuse charges against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has been investigating the grand jury's conclusions since April.

Rebar turned the video monitor away from public viewing, prompting reporters in the courtroom to try to lodge a formal protest in the public record.

"There is no record and I won't place any of these objections on the record. I see the screen and we won't make an exception," Rebar responded.

Both prosecutors and Kane's spokesperson, Chuck Ardo, dismissed the idea that Kane was being given special treatment by being allowed to appear via video conference rather than in an open courtroom.

(Writing by Daniel Bases; Editing by Alison Williams and James Dalgleish)