HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has halted the possibility of any criminal charges filed
against state Attorney General Kathleen Kane while it reviews her motion to challenge the legality of the special prosecutor who led a grand jury investigation that recommended charges of perjury, false swearing, official oppression and obstruction.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman is temporarily blocked from following through on the grand jury's recommendations while the high court prepares to hear arguments March 11 on whether the appointment of Thomas Carluccio as special prosecutor was legal.
The probe was ordered by Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter, who appointed Carluccio to investigate how the details of a grand jury investigation into J. Whyatt Mondeshire, former president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, reached the Philadelphia Daily News. Kane had been accused of leaking the information in a bid to humiliate one of her most vocal critics, Frank Fina, who worked as a prosecutor for then-Attorney General Tom Corbett.
During her 2012 run for the AG office, Kane promised to look into the investigation of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted of sexually abusing underage boys and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in federal prison. Kane pledged to determine why the Attorney General’s Office took so long to develop a case against Sandusky, a task headed by Fina.
Last year, the existence of several sexually explicit emails traded among former employees of the AGO under Corbett’s tenure were publicly released and resulted in the resignations of several high-profile public officials, including former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery. The grand jury investigation was ordered by Carpenter and approved by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille by the leak of information regarding the grand jury presentation against Mondeshire, conducted in 2009 by Fina.
No charges were filed against Mondeshire, and the details of the investigation were intended to remain secret. The suspected goal of the leak was to paint Fina as an incompetent prosecutor, in retaliation of Fina’s criticisms of Kane’s decision to drop a sting operation against Philadelphia lawmakers.