By Peter Hall
Attorney General Kathleen Kane's closest confidant and driver, Patrick Reese, was sentenced to 3 to 6 months of jail and fined $1,000 Thursday for violating a judge's order by snooping through coworkers' emails to keep tabs on a grand jury investigating his boss.
Reese, 48, a former Lackawanna County police chief hired by Kane to lead her security detail, was convicted in December of contempt for violating Montgomery County Judge William R. Carpenter's protective order barring the attorney general's office from meddling or intimidating witnesses in the investigation.
Kane was charged in August with perjury and other crimes related to alleged leaks of secret grand jury material from her office. Prosecutors allege she orchestrated the release of materials from an investigation into the finances of a Philadelphia civil rights leader to embarrass a rival.
According to records in Reese's case, detectives from the Montgomery County district attorney's office discovered Reese had searched the attorney general's office email archive for information about the grand jury investigating the leak.
Reese searched for emails that mentioned special prosecutor Thomas Carluccio, Carluccio's wife, a deputy attorney general who testified before the grand jury and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who oversaw all Pennsylvania grand juries, according to the court records.
Detectives reviewed the emails that Reese opened and found he was able to see subpoenas of witnesses called to appear before the grand jury, dates that the witnesses were called to appear, the identity of a grand juror and conversations concerning the protective order, court records say.
Reese's searches followed an instruction by Kane around the time the grand jury probe became public that the number of employees with access to the archives be limited to Reese and two other people in the office, court records say.
Kane's former first assistant, Adrian King Jr., testified before the grand jury that Kane tasked Reese and special agent David Peifer, who was also part of Kane's inner circle, with secretly reviewing employees' email, court records say. Peifer has not been charged.
Under agency policy, Reese should have been suspended without pay as soon as Carpenter found him guilty of contempt. That did not happen. Kane, over the objections of her internal affairs chief, has opted to keep Reese on staff as a supervisor agency earning $99,658 and working out of the Scranton office.
"It is unlikely that Mr. Reese's status with the office will change before the legal process has concluded, including his right to appeal," said Kane's spokesman Chuck Ardo.
Carpenter appointed Carluccio to investigate the alleged leaks after a Philadelphia Daily News story was published detailing an investigation into then Philadelphia NAACP leader J. Whyatt Mondesire's use of public money. That probe, headed by former Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina, was dropped and resulted in no charges. Mondesire was not charged.
The story followed an earlier article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about Kane's decision not to prosecute state legislators and other Philadelphia officials caught taking bribes in an undercover sting, also overseen by Fina, who was by that time working in the Philadelphia district attorney's office.
Kane, convinced one of the sources of the unflattering story was Fina, harbored animosity toward him and sought revenge by leaking information about the stalled Mondesire case, prosecutors say.
(c)2016 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)