- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Prosecutors added a new perjury count and other criminal charges Thursday against Pennsylvania’s attorney general, saying they found a signed document that contradicts her claims she never agreed to maintain secrecy of a grand jury investigation in 2009, before she took office.

The Montgomery County district attorney charged Kathleen Kane with felony perjury and two misdemeanors - false swearing and obstruction - based on a secrecy oath she signed shortly after taking office in early 2013.

Kane told reporters at her arraignment that she recently gave ethics agencies about 1,500 emails linked to state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, in a new allegation in an ongoing scandal over the exchange of pornographic and otherwise inappropriate emails among state prosecutors, judges and others.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, was previously charged with perjury, conspiracy and other offenses. Prosecutors allege she leaked secret grand jury information about a 2009 investigation to a newspaper and then lied about it.

Kane spoke defiantly about her latest arrest and vowed to continue working to expose what she said was a “network” involving judges, federal prosecutors, attorneys general, law enforcement, district attorneys and public defenders. She referred to a sitting Supreme Court justice, and her office’s spokesman later said she was referring to Eakin.

“You can arrest me two times, you can arrest me 10 times. I’m sure this isn’t the end of the game,” Kane said. “But I will not stop until the truth comes out, and I will not stop until the system operates the way it’s supposed to be.”

Eakin did not immediately respond Thursday to a message seeking comment.

The new charges involved allegations Kane lied when she repeatedly said she did not swear to keep secret the 2009 grand jury information about a former head of the NAACP in Philadelphia.

But the district attorney’s office said her signed oath was recovered during a search of her Harrisburg offices Sept. 17, contradicting her claims that no such document existed.

“Kane perpetuated this falsehood not just before (a) grand jury, but also in legal filings before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and to the people of Pennsylvania through privately retained representatives,” wrote Montgomery County Detective Paul Michael Bradbury, who attached a photocopy of the one-paragraph oath to the arrest affidavit.

Authorities say Kane and other top aides were compelled to sign the secrecy oath and three others just like it that applied to other grand jury panels to participate in a transition meeting on Jan. 17, 2013, that concerned the office’s investigations.

Bradbury said agents learned about the existence of the signed secrecy oaths only after arresting her Aug. 6 over leaks to the Philadelphia Daily News last year. At the arraignment, Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele attributed the new information to “brave people from the attorney general’s office” who came forward.

“This case is very straightforward,” Steele said when asked about Kane’s statements. “This is a perjury case that we have brought based upon materials that she testified about and that were brought out by people in her office that indicate she had sworn to this.”

The arrest affidavit said Kane testified before a grand jury in November 2014 that she was not sworn to secrecy for the 2009 grand jury.

Kane and her top aides, she told the grand jury, “all knew that we were not sworn into a 2009 grand jury. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. … None of us were sworn into that grand jury.”

The pornographic email scandal has already resulted in the firing of or discipline against dozens of employees of Kane’s office and caused Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery to abruptly retire late last year.

She said the email account linked to Eakin, a Republican former prosecutor, contained “racial, misogynistic pornography” and a joke about a woman who was beaten by her husband.

“And what does this mean to the public?” Kane said. “That means that your system, your criminal justice system that you think you have and you think you deserve is not working properly.”

If she is convicted of either perjury charge, she will be ineligible to hold office.

Kane’s attorneys have argued in a court filing that she only authorized the release of nonsecret information “relating to a pattern of unjustifiable selective prosecution or nonprosecution” at the attorney general’s office before she took the reins.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, including Eakin, last week issued a temporary, indefinite suspension of Kane’s law license that will take effect later this month.

___

Scolforo and AP writer Marc Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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