Pennsylvania Supreme Court Releases Porn Emails in AG Case

by | August 27, 2015

By Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane blames two former state prosecutors for the criminal case against her, saying they "corruptly manufactured" the investigation to cover up the fact that they had viewed pornography on state computers.

Kane's assertion is contained in hundreds of pages of court documents unsealed Wednesday by the state Supreme Court.

In one of the briefs, from November of last year, Kane contends that former prosecutors Frank Fina and E. Marc Costanzo "regularly received, possessed and distributed misogynistic, pornographic, racist, obscene and offensive emails on their state-owned computers."

When she discovered the emails, Kane said, the two embarked on a campaign to discredit her by seeking a grand jury investigation into whether she had leaked confidential materials from an old case they handled in a bid to embarrass them.

Fina and Costanzo, who now work in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, could not be reached for comment.

Kane, the state's highest-ranking law enforcement official, was charged earlier this month with perjury, conspiracy, obstruction, and other crimes by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman in connection with the leak.

Prosecutors say Kane secretly released grand jury documents about a long-shuttered investigation handled by Fina and Costanzo. She did so, they say, because she blamed Fina for negative news stories about her.

Kane has pleaded not guilty and said she will remain in office despite calls from Gov. Wolf and others that she resign.

In one of her legal briefs, Kane described the emails in graphic detail.

She said they included nude photographs purporting to be of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; photos of women's genitalia; a photo of an African American baby holding a rifle; and photographs purporting to be of President Obama sitting next to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is partially undressed.

In many of the examples listed, Fina and Costanzo were recipients rather than senders of the emails.

The court papers unsealed Wednesday were a fusillade of legal motions in which Kane repeatedly tried and failed to block subpoenas demanding her testimony, undo the protective order for witnesses, and, most broadly, shut down the investigation as having no legal foundation.

Kane's arguments were made to the high court in a series of filings, some brought by the Attorney General Office and signed by top aides in their official roles, including the chief of her appeals unit at the time. In other cases, the legal theories were advanced by her personal lawyers.

In making her argument about the pornographic emails to the court, Kane displayed clear anger at the two men, calling them "porn peddlars."

The language in her November 2014 brief is vitriolic, even asserting that Fina and Costanzo had engaged in potentially criminal behavior.

During the course of the leak investigation, Kane said, Fina and Costanzo misrepresented the pornographic emails as they successfully petitioned a judge for a protective order -- one that she said barred her from publicly exposing them.

"Faced with personal and professional ruin, they [Fina and Costanzo] acted in desperation to avoid the public disgrace that they richly deserve," Kane's lawyers wrote.

Of the protective order, they said: "It also allowed Fina and Costanzo to keep their jobs as state prosecutors despite having themselves engaged in an ongoing course of potentially criminal conduct.

(c)2015 The Philadelphia Inquirer