- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - An aide to embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced to three to six months in jail Thursday for illegally accessing emails to keep tabs on a grand jury probe of his boss.

Patrick “Rocco” Reese, 48, a former small-town police chief in northeastern Pennsylvania, was allowed to remain free while he appeals the contempt of court verdict. He also remains on the state payroll, earning nearly $100,000 a year as Kane’s driver and security chief.

“In all likelihood, (Reese) was ordered to do this by his boss, Kathleen Kane,” said Assistant District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick of Montgomery County. “That is not an excuse. He should have refused any (such) directive that came from her.”

In court, Reese declined to address Common Pleas Judge William R. Carpenter, whose protection order he violated. Reese’s lawyer, William Fetterhoff, said his client would appeal. He has called the contempt finding “flawed and dangerous,” and said Reese never knew of the protection order.

Kane also backs Reese, whom she has declined to suspend. In a statement Thursday, Kane said she viewed Carpenter’s protective order as both unconstitutional and an “attempt to shield the emails of a few.”

Reese, she said, “was doing the job he was sworn to uphold. I have every expectation that a higher court will confirm that Mr. Reese was performing his duties and not violating a court order.”

The order banned Kane’s aides from accessing the office email server to protect the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings.

Instead, Reese kept tabs on the witness schedule and searched for information on special prosecutor Thomas Carluccio, his wife, Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Carluccio, Carpenter and others. He did so hundreds of times over several months, prosecutors said.

“Those searches were designed to dig up dirt,” McGoldrick said.

Kane at one point told her political consultant that she knew he had testified the day before, he said.

Reese’s searches through grand jury emails occurred as Kane was being investigated for allegedly leaking evidence from a 2009 investigation to a newspaper reporter. In August, Montgomery County authorities charged Kane with perjury, obstruction and other crimes after Carpenter referred the grand jury’s findings to investigators there.

Kane has pleaded not guilty. Her term is up next January, and she is not running for re-election.

Carpenter said the fact Reese has a law enforcement background made the crime even worse. He spent 25 years on the police force in Dunmore, near Kane’s hometown of Scranton, and was its chief when he left to work for Kane.

“It was intentional. He knew that it was wrong. He didn’t care,” Carpenter said.

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