- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by former Pennsylvania attorney general staffers against Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and says any comments Kane made weren’t damaging enough to warrant litigation.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/2av5Owo) on the ruling in the lawsuit filed last year by five former Pennsylvania prosecutors and investigators.

Plaintiffs Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo and Rick Sheetz worked as prosecutors in the attorney general’s office before Kane was elected in 2012. Plaintiffs Randy Feathers and Frank Noonan were investigators for the attorney general’s office, and Noonan later served as state police commissioner.

They said Kane released information about pornographic videos and images in their state email accounts out of spite to tarnish their reputations because they had criticized her public statements and decision not to prosecute certain high-profile cases.

District Judge Harvey Bartle III on Tuesday noted that any untrue comments didn’t lead to their firing or discipline. Bartle also tossed the case against the Philadelphia Daily News and reporter Chris Brennan. But the complaint could still be filed in state court.

A round of resignations followed Kane’s release of the information, including Sheetz’s resignation as a part-time Lancaster County prosecutor and Feathers’ resignation from the state probation and parole board at then-Gov. Tom Corbett’s request. Fina and Costanzo were ordered to take sensitivity training.

Kane awaits trial next month on charges she violated grand jury secrecy rules, allegations she denies. Those charges are linked to claims that Kane allegedly leaked confidential information to the newspaper and Brennan, which led to a published article using the information. Kane is accused of then lying under oath about what transpired.


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com

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