According to Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kathleen Kane blocked subpoenas for Louis DeNaples and William Conaboy in an investigation concerning Donald Shiffer, former assistant counsel of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
DeNaples and Conaboy were set to be questioned and their testimony would be key in determining whether the grounds existed to charge Shiffer with perjury and violating PA’s conflict-of-interest law.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Laurel Brandstetter was intent on following through with the case in the spring of 2013. She issued the two subpoenas and Bruce Beemer, who is now Kane’s top deputy, signed off on them.
Kane, however, was uncertain about having the two men testify and argued with her staff over the decision.
“Kane raised questions about Brandstetter’s style and was sympathetic to DeNaples, sources said,” wrote McCoy and Couloumbis.’’It was clear that she didn’t want it to go forward,’ according to someone familiar with prosecutors’ decision-making.”
Despite the fact that the men had agreed to an interview, the AG killed the meetings.
What makes the case suspicious is that DeNaples is a Scranton-area millionaire and Conaboy an influential Northeastern PA political player. Lackawanna County, of course, is where Kane is from.
In fact on October 3 of that year, after the investigation ended, DeNaples donated $25,000 to Kane’s campaign. According to the Inquirer’s report, the contribution was made through Pocono Gardens and was the only donation that entity has made in its six year history.
Kane returned the contribution on December 30, 2013.
This episode shares many similarities with some of the Attorney General’s past controversial actions.
For instance, the case resembles the now infamous Philly sting operation that Kane shut down and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams resurrected.
Also, Kane’s battle with her staff recalls the testimony her ex-Deputy gave that her team argued against leaking grand jury information.
An investigation was launched against the Attorney General over that leak which resulted in the recommendation of charges. This week, the State Supreme Court rejected Kane’s arguments that a special prosecutor shouldn’t get to decide whether to indict her.
The final irony was the AG’s response when asked for comment regarding this story on DeNaples’ and Conaboy’s subpoenas.
Any comment “would be a violation of grand jury secrecy rules,” her office told the Inquirer.