- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A veteran Democrat in the Pennsylvania Legislature pleaded no contest in a corruption case Wednesday and agreed to immediately resign her Philadelphia seat, in a case brought by city prosecutors after Attorney General Kathleen Kane abandoned it because she believed it improperly targeted black officials.

Rep. Louise Bishop, 82, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor for failing to report on ethics filings $1,500 in cash she took from an informant posing as a lobbyist.

Bishop, who leaves after 27 years in the House, will be on probation for six months and may not seek elective office. She also must pay restitution that includes $5,000 toward the cost to prosecute her.

Bishop’s lawyer, Charles Peruto, told Judge Scott Evans that after he was allowed to review prosecution files for “countless hours,” he decided to withdraw a motion seeking dismissal on grounds of racial targeting, saying it lacked viability.

“I came to the conclusion that, of the five people I was going to proffer, none of them were going to be able to back up my claim of racial targeting,” Peruto said.

Kane was in the courthouse, prepared to testify about the racial targeting claims, but she was not called to the stand after Peruto withdrew the motion and Bishop entered her plea.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, prosecutor Mark Gilson linked Kane to a scandal over lewd and objectionable emails involving people at Kane’s office, judges and others in the state’s legal community.

“When is Kathleen Kane going to release the 58 emails that her sister got or the 11 that were forwarded to her?” Gilson said. Asked how he knew, he said: “Didn’t you hear? I’m doing a grand jury.”

Gilson says Kane received 11 such emails and her sister, an employee of the office, received 58, although he did not provide any details about the contents.

Kane has released thousands of the emails and made formal complaints over them to state entities that regulate judicial ethics. The state Court of Judicial Discipline plans a hearing on Monday in Easton that could lead to the suspension of state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin for email practices that have been disclosed by Kane.

Later in the day, Kane made public some of the emails received by her sister, Ellen Granahan, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Granahan works for her sister’s agency as head of the child predator section.

The newspaper said the dozens of emails made public included some that had racy pictures or referred to racial or ethnic groups - the kind of jokes Kane criticized when they were in emails sent or received by other officials. None contained pornography.

Kane spokesman Chuck Ardo said Granahan’s emails were not offensive and didn’t warrant any discipline, the Inquirer said.

Bishop is the fourth current or former state lawmaker, along with a Philadelphia traffic court judge, to plead guilty or no contest to criminal charges over cash and gifts from Tyron Ali.

Ali became an undercover informant for the attorney general’s office after being arrested on charges he stole federal funds from a program to feed poor children and older people.

Kane, who inherited the investigation after taking office in 2013, determined it was poorly structured and improperly targeted black officials. Bishop and the other five defendants are all black.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who also is black, voluntarily took over the case and his office has obtained five convictions. A sixth defendant, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Philadelphia, awaits trial.

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