- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Philadelphia’s district attorney packaged charges against two Democratic state lawmakers with a rare recrimination of a fellow prosecutor as he chided Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s earlier refusal to pursue charges in the case involving an undercover sting.

Seth Williams’ critique came after a six-month grand jury investigation into both the evidence against the lawmakers and Kane’s criticism of the investigation - and its investigators.

Kane’s office was uncooperative when Williams’ office sought evidence to back up her claims that the case was fatally flawed, according to the 29-page grand jury presentment issued Tuesday.

“On repeated occasions, the grand jury was assured that it had received all relevant materials, only to receive significant additional materials upon judicial intervention,” it said. “Each new document dump, of course, indicated that the prior representations had been false.”

Williams’ spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson was equally critical Wednesday.

“To say they were less than forthcoming is absolutely accurate,” Jamerson said.

On Tuesday, Williams’ office charged state Reps. Ronald Waters and Vanessa Brown with bribery and other counts. On Wednesday, another target of the sting, a former Philadelphia traffic court president judge, Thomasine Tynes, pleaded guilty to conflict of interest. Two other Philadelphia lawmakers were targets of the sting, the Inquirer has reported, and Williams said the investigation was continuing.

Kane’s office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. In a muted statement Tuesday after the grand jury report was issued, Kane did not repeat all of her earlier criticisms. She still noted that the investigation had been dormant for much of 2012 and questioned a deal to drop all charges against the informant stemming from a separate case.

“That said, prosecutors disagree all the time on the merit of pursuing various cases and Attorney General Kane supports the efforts of all District Attorneys to obtain equal justice under the law,” the statement said.

The investigation had been a secret and all of its records sealed until The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in March that Kane’s office had decided against pursuing it. Kane, who took office in 2013, inherited the case from her predecessors and she attacked it as too fatally flawed to win convictions in court.

The case had been so poorly conceived and managed that it was impossible to prove that the lawmakers had done something illegal, Kane and her aides said. In addition, the case was beset by other problems, including that investigators were targeting black lawmakers without cause, Kane said.

By the time the Inquirer revealed the existence of the case, the sting’s lead agent - who is black - and prosecutor had left the attorney general’s office and gone to work for Williams. Williams, who is also black, came to their defense, and took over the case after Kane effectively dared him.

The grand jury report issued Tuesday said Kane’s own top lieutenants did not believe her reasons for refusing to prosecute the case.

But Williams said the targets were not entrapped, but rather were self-selecting, deciding to whom they wanted to introduce the informant.

“They took the money not because they were targeted or tricked, but because they wanted it,” Williams said in a statement.

Emails between top Kane aides even showed that some did not believe any legislator was entrapped, the grand jury said.

The grand jury also cited what it said was testimony by a high-ranking aide to Kane that “there is absolutely nothing in the case file that would lead one to believe that” the investigation targeted only black lawmakers.

In April, after a judge unsealed some documents in the case, Kane told reporters that case notes and an affidavit backed up the lead agent’s allegation that he had been ordered to target just black lawmakers.

The grand jury repeatedly requested to see the documents, Williams said, but they do not appear to exist.

“If they have it, they haven’t given it to us,” Jamerson said Wednesday.


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