- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A former high-ranking supervisor with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has resigned from his job in a county prosecutor’s office, the latest fallout from the disclosure that employees of the office swapped emails with pornographic images or videos.

Rick Sheetz, who led the criminal division until Attorney General Kathleen Kane took office early last year, resigned Monday from his part-time job as an assistant district attorney in Lancaster County.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said the email scandal prompted Sheetz’s departure, which was first reported Tuesday by Lancaster Newspapers. Sheetz and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Two other former prosecutors from the office, Chris Abruzzo and Glenn Parno, resigned from the Department of Environmental Protection last week after Kane released redacted copies of emails sent or received by eight former employees of the office. Abruzzo was the DEP secretary and Parno a department lawyer.

All worked for the office when Gov. Tom Corbett was attorney general from 2005 to 2011. Corbett has not been identified as a sender or recipient of the emails, which came to light during a review by Kane into how the office handled the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case.

Another former state prosecutor under Corbett identified by Kane, who later worked for Corbett in the governor’s office, has left the large law firm where he has worked for the past year. Chris Carusone said he was forming his own practice, but declined to discuss why he left Conrad O’Brien. The firm’s chairman, Jim Rohn, released a statement that wished Carusone well, but did not address the circumstances of his departure.

Abruzzo’s resignation letter said he did not remember “the specific accounts described by the media,” but said he did not want the matter to be a distraction for the administration. Parno has not made any public comment.

State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, who also is one of the eight named by Kane, has kept his job.

“The information that we received does not indicate that Commissioner Noonan opened, forwarded, replied to or originated any of the emails brought to light by the attorney general,” Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni said Wednesday. Noonan has not commented on the matter.

A former investigator for the attorney general’s office, Randy Feathers, has resisted Corbett’s call for him to resign as a member of the state Board of Probation and Parole. He has said he wants Kane to appoint an independent forensic expert to review the emails.

Corbett would need a two-thirds vote of the state Senate to remove Feathers from the board for cause.

On Wednesday, a political action committee that supports Corbett’s Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, said the state Republican Party and the Corbett campaign should cut ties with Kevin Harley, a former press secretary for Corbett as attorney general and governor, who received some of the emails. He left the Corbett administration last year for a Harrisburg communications and political consulting firm.

Harley said Wednesday he did not open any of the emails he received, nor did he send or forward any.

The eighth former employee, prosecutor Pat Blessington, remains a full-time employee of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. The office’s spokeswoman, Tasha Jamerson, declined further comment, and Blessington has not commented about it.

Kane has only released details about former employees of the office, and said she won’t release the names of current employees who forwarded or received pornography because of confidentiality rules under union contracts, and because the state’s open records law does not require it.

“Current employees who forwarded and/or received pornography under prior administrations are subject to disciplinary action, and have been notified as such,” Kane said Friday, when she released the second set of redacted emails.

She said the severity would depend on whether they forwarded it, and whether they are a supervisor or an underling. Kane’s office also has not named more former employees because it has “restrictions upon which we cannot elaborate,” a spokeswoman has said.

The attorney general’s office said it plans Friday to hand over information sought by Pennsylvania’s top judge, Ronald Castille, showing whether any judicial officer was involved in exchanging the emails.

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