Attorney General Kathleen Kane explained the reasons that her office could not prosecute the now-famous public corruption case out of Philadelphia in a press conference Monday morning.
“We could not prosecute this case,” Kane told members of the press. “We made the correct decisions, I would make that same decision all over again and again and again, despite the criticism we have seen over the last couple of days.”
The hubbub over this case comes after a Sunday article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that explored the reasons why the AG’s office would shut down a three-year sting investigation that produced evidence of lawmakers accepting money in exchange for votes.
According to the investigation, State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D-Philadelphia) reportedly accepted $7,650 in bribes, while State Rep. Vanessa Brown (D-Philadelphia) accepted $4,000, State Rep. Michelle Brownlee accepted $3,500 (D-Philadelphia), and State Rep. Louise Bishop (D-Philadelphia) accepted $1,500. Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes was also implicated for accepting a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet. All those allegedly accused are African American and members of the Democratic Party.
The reasons for not pursuing charges in the three year investigation were fourfold, according to Kane’s office: traditional law enforcement techniques and reporting were not used; the case was poorly managed, the credibility of the confidential informant was gravely damaged; and there was evidence of racial targeting.
The most damaging of which was the confidential informant who, according to Kane, became uncooperative at one point.
“It was the deal of the century,” Kane said. “Over 2,000 charges were dropped [against the CI].”
Kane said that her hands were tied and that the case had been dormant for months before she even took office. However, when she did assume the office, her administration re-examined the tape recordings from the CI, and presented them to a federal agency and local legal authority – both of whom decided against pursuing charges.
At this point, it appears as though the tapes will not be released to the public.
“Why dont we just release the tapes?,” Kane asked rhetorically. “Because they are still evidence. If the case goes somewhere else, if another agency takes over the case, we have to maintain the chain of evidence.”
While the tapes may not ever be released, Kane hinted that there may be hard evidence of racial targeting, after two individuals went to two different authorities to report that they were told to pursue only members of the African American caucus.
Kane is the fourth Attorney General to have access to the tapes, and the fourth to decline to bring charges.
Several members of the press pushed Kane on whether the AG’s office could move forward and reinvestigate the targets in a better-run operation.
“You can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It did happen,” Kane said.
According to her estimate, approximately $20,000 of taxpayer money had been used in the operation, and gone to eight different targets.
“I’m here to set the record straight,” Kane said. “I’m not here to bash a newspaper, I’m here to bash the anonymous sources who didn’t even have the guts to attach their names to it.”
She repeatedly pointed out her office’s commitment to prosecuting public corruption, and that they have already pursued 10 cases where the alleged were Democrats, dispelling beliefs that the shutdown of this sting operation was politically motivated.
If this case has been going on for three years .. How much has Fina and the previous AGs spent on this?
Too often, it seems, prosecutors and investigators want to keep cases alive to justify what they already over spent, rather than drop a bad case and admit their waste.
These sting operations are shady. There is enough corruption in this state to keep prosecutors busy without having to “fish around” with sting operations. Look into the city of Harrisburg and its finances. Mayor Reed went underground right after his election loss.
Put up or shut up Fina. You have concurrent jurisdiction. Take the case. And for the dummies who think you can prosecute a bribery case on an audio tape there is one thing you can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt solely on audio: whether money was actually transferred and who took the money. That’s why you need to inventory the serial numbers of the currency and have evidence of defendant’s possession of the cash. In addition proof of quid pro quo sounds weak at best. “Heres money to vote against a bill that you would vote against anyway” What kind of moron came up with that idea? And I hear that last year the son in law of a high ranking executive wanted a deal in exchange for helping to sting some Philly pols who were caught redhanded taking cash. Maybe a coincidence but….
KSJW, I agree completely that the tapes, once authenticated, speak for themselves. But, of course, that is racist and sexist of me.
The CI’s criminal background can be used to impeach the witness, but it does not serve as grounds for barring him from authenticating the tape. Once the jury believes the tape to be authentic, they don’t need the CI’s testimony to win the cases.
American Hustle anyone? same lessons here. they go after pols ( i personally loved the mayor in his movie) and never got to the real greed
This is racial targeting at its worst…instead of going after millionaire tax fraud they go after cash gifts for 1k each in exchange…its just so obviously a set up and the money is for votes for the black caucus members to vote against the voter id bill like they were ever voting for it in the first place. makes no sense. sad state of politics continues. ps. can’t believe seth williams is siding with republican investigators and corbett on this.
Next time Fina is on the ballot, you be sure to bring that up.
Way to get out in front. the despicable one in all this is “Mr. Corruption Fighter” Fina – who didn’t have the balls to be quoted by the Inky, even though it is crystal clear that he is the source of the criticism. He ought to be brought up on Ethics charges, after cutting that deal when he was a Lame Duck, letting off a career criminal from a half million dollar fraud case. And it is also crystal clear that HE was the source of the racial targeting, and he isn’t man enough to admit it or explain it. He put together a Dog of a case, and then whines about three agencies declining to pursue it. Seth William ought to be ashamed to have him on the payroll.
By charged, I mean targeted.
Direct quote from the Inquirer: “Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments.”
Can someone please tell me how the sting was racially motivated against blacks if the investigations charged members of both parties and there isn’t a single member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus that is a Republican?
Atta girl. Damage control.
She’s smart to know when she’s beat. I find that endearing.
For all you “Blame Bushs” out there, this is how a real pro handles this crisis; and it ain’t by transparently blaming Corbett.
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