Key Person In Kane Case: Adrian King
Norristown — Montgomery County prosecutors consider Adrian King a crucial witness against state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.
To Ms. Kane’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, he’s a liar.
Mr. King served as Ms. Kane’s first deputy. He contends he merely acted as the delivery man and never looked inside a folder containing grand jury information he secretly passed to political consultant Joshua Morrow in 2014, according to court records.
Ms. Kane admits she discussed leaking information about a 2009 grand jury probe of J. Whyatt Mondesire, but she never authorized anyone to leak grand jury information. Mr. King alone decided what to release, her attorneys have said.
The he-said, she-said battle between the state’s top prosecutor and her one-time close confidant promises to be a key issue in Ms. Kane’s trial in Montgomery County Court on charges of perjury, false swearing official oppression, obstructing the administration of law and conspiracy.
Tuesday began with about an hour dedicated to opening statements from the prosecution and defense, followed by two witnesses for the prosecution.
Mr. King is expected to be called as a witness some time this week. It’s not known yet if Ms. Kane will testify. A jury of six men and six women chosen Monday will hear the case.
Ms. Kane, the first woman and Democrat to be elected Pennsylvania attorney general, appeared relaxed as she casually chatted with her defense team before the jury entered the courtroom. With her parents, twin sister and other supporters sitting in the courtroom, the West Scranton native listened intently as prosecutors laid out their case.
Two witnesses took the stand Tuesday, Montgomery County Detective Paul Bradbury and Bruce Beemer, who served as Ms. Kane’s first deputy after Mr. King resigned in June 2014.
‘War of revenge’
Prosecutor Michelle Henry set the stage for the witnesses in a 25-minute opening statement. She wove a tale of a clandestine operation orchestrated by Ms. Kane to seek revenge against an adversary without any thought of who else she might hurt in accomplishing her goal.
She targeted Frank Fina, a former prosecutor in her office she blamed for leaking information that led to a negative story detailing her decision not to file charges against several Philadelphia-area legislators accused of accepting bribes.
To retaliate, Ms. Henry said, Ms. Kane leaked information from a 2009 grand jury probe of Mr. Mondesire that Mr. Fina shut down without filing charges. The resulting story that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News in June 2014 seriously damaged the reputation of Mr. Mondesire, who was never charged with any crime. He died last year.
“She knew it was wrong and against the law and she didn’t care,” how it hurt Mr. Mondesire, said Ms. Henry, a Bucks County assistant district attorney specially appointed to try the case. “He was just a casualty in her war of revenge.”
When it became apparent Ms. Kane broke the law, she made an even more egregious mistake by trying to cover up her actions by lying to a grand jury investigating the leak, Ms. Henry said.
In his opening statement, Mr. Shargel acknowledged Ms. Kane gave false testimony regarding whether she ever signed an oath to keep secret information from a grand jury prosecuted by her predecessors. He said she did not commit a crime, however, because it was an “honest mistake” as she simply did not remember doing so.
He refuted the prosecution’s claims of a feud between Ms. Kane and Mr. Fina. She was upset by the 2009 article that criticized her handling of the bribery case, but not so much that she would risk everything she had accomplished in getting elected as attorney general, Mr. Shargel said.
“It just doesn’t make sense that she would risk her reputation and career,” he told jurors.
The evidence will show Mr. King and Mr. Morrow are to blame and are lying to save themselves, he said.
Mr. King and Mr. Morrow will try to minimize their roles in leaking the documents, Ms. Henry acknowledged. She also revealed for the first time that prosecutors have evidence Mr. Morrow and Ms. Kane met in August 2014 to talk about their grand jury testimony so they could “get their stories straight.”
That’s a double-edged sword for prosecutors.
While it provides incriminating evidence against Ms. Kane, the defense also likely will use it to discredit Mr. Morrow, who prosecutors granted immunity to testify.
Following opening statements the prosecution called its first witness, Detective Bradbury, who testified for about three hours. Questioned by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, Detective Bradbury spoke about the process authorities used to build the case. He also recited the testimony Ms. Kane gave before the grand jury.
Mr. Beemer was next. He spoke about his reaction when he learned information from the Mondesire probe was made public in the Philadelphia Daily News. He said he was “shocked” by the article because he knew the documents had to have come from the attorney general’s office.
Mr. Beemer just began to speak about that matter when the trial concluded for the day. He will continue his testimony today.
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Recap: The prosecution and defense presented opening statements Tuesday. Prosecutors called their first two witnesses.
Today: Bruce Beemer, who served as first deputy, retakes the stand and will be followed by other prosecution witnesses.