For Kane, bitter months ahead as sentencing looms

08.22.16 | Bob Price

Facing a possible prison term, the loss of her law license, an impeachment push, and a contentious divorce, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane can expect bitter months ahead.

Still, the Scranton Democrat appeared calm, almost serene, after her conviction last week on perjury charges. "I have no regrets," she said.

"I don't know what's next," Kane, 50, told reporters on her last day of work. "But I know somebody has said to me that your future is always brighter than your past."

That lack of regret may well have been yet another misstep.
 
Veteran political observers say that while Kane's once-promising political career is likely over, she, like other disgraced officials before her, can rebound.

"But you have to start with humility," said former Attorney General Ernest Preate Jr., who spent 11 months in prison after a 1995 conviction on a federal corruption charge. "It's the first element of rehabilitation: acceptance of responsibility."

Preate, a Republican who, like Kane, hails from Scranton, lost his law license. By leaning on family and friends, Preate said in an interview last week, he rebuilt his life, won back his law license, and founded a successful legal practice.

He said Kane's failure to apologize stunned him.

"You lied to a grand jury. You corrupted your office. You embarrassed the judicial system. And now you say, 'I have no regrets,' " Preate said. "It doesn't make sense. Don't you realize you are going to be sentenced in 90 days, and you could go to state prison?"

Kane declined further comment Friday, saying it was "not in my best interest" to talk about her plans.

The former attorney general is to be sentenced Oct. 24 on two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor charges of obstruction, official oppression, and other crimes.

A jury found Kane guilty of illegally leaking confidential investigative documents in a bid to embarrass a critic and then lying about it under oath.

While state law permits a maximum sentence of up to 28 years in prison for her, guidelines urge judges to select a punishment from probation to one year for a perjury conviction. In cases of multiple convictions, like Kane's, judges are free to make sentences consecutive.

Perjury defendants are commonly imprisoned. According to data on Pennsylvania's courts, of 32 perjury sentences imposed last year, judges gave time behind bars in 24 cases.

Her conviction was already a bitter landing for someone once considered a bright star among Pennsylvania Democrats.

"For her, this became personal, and she became driven by her internal need to deal with enemies," said G. Terry Madonna, a leading political analyst and pollster. "She wasn't suited for politics."

Even as Kane's legal problems were deepening, she filed for divorce in December 2014, seeking to end her 14-year marriage to Christopher Kane, an heir to a trucking fortune.

In court filings, Kane and her husband have traded shots over everything from her assertion that her husband all but drained a joint $1.1 million Vanguard fund to custody of the family dog.

Kane complained in a divorce pleading that her husband took the dog from her home one day when she was not there.

His version: He rescued a dog she had left "unattended for a significant period of time."

Christopher Kane acknowledged taking money from the Vanguard fund to buy a new house. But he said Kane had withdrawn more than $500,000 from her campaign fund to pay her legal bills - even though she still owes him $1.6 million he lent her during her run for attorney general in 2012. Christopher Kane's lawyer, Charles J. Meyer, did not return a call for comment Friday.

Though Kane forfeited her annual salary of $159,000 when she resigned Wednesday, she continues to collect $228,000 a year in alimony and child support for her two teenage sons, according to court filings. And there is no mortgage on her $1.6 million home north of Scranton.

As Kane works to find her path forward, key legislators in Harrisburg, where Republicans control both chambers, are seeking to shut the door for her on any return to politics.

Lawmakers predict that despite Kane's resignation, the state House will continue to push for her impeachment. If approved by the Senate, impeachment would bar her from holding elected office even if her conviction were overturned on appeal.