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Kane shut down sting that snared Phila. officials

Quote:Kane shut down sting that snared Phila. officials

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office ran an undercover sting operation over three years that captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four members of the city's state House delegation, on tape accepting money, The Inquirer has learned.

Yet no one was charged with a crime.

Prosecutors began the sting in 2010 when Republican Tom Corbett was attorney general. After Democrat Kathleen G. Kane took office in 2013, she shut it down.

In a statement to The Inquirer on Friday, Kane called the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism, saying it had targeted African Americans.

Those who favored the sting believe Kane killed a solid investigation, led by experienced prosecutor Frank G. Fina, that had ensnared several public officials and had the potential to capture more. They said they were outraged at Kane's allegation that race had played a role in the case.

Before Kane ended the investigation, sources familiar with the inquiry said, prosecutors amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape that documented at least four city Democrats taking payments in cash or money orders, and in one case a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet.

Typically, the payments made at any one time were relatively modest - ranging from $500 to $2,000 - but most of those involved accepted multiple payments, people familiar with the investigation said. In some cases, the payments were offered in exchange for votes or contracts, they said.

Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments.

The investigation's undercover operative was a little-known lobbyist, Tyron B. Ali, 40, who agreed to wear a wire and tape the officials to win favorable treatment after his arrest in a $430,000 fraud case, the newspaper has learned.

In an unusual move, the Attorney General's Office then dropped the fraud charges secretly, under seal, last fall.

Robert J. Levant, a lawyer for Ali, said neither he nor his client would have any comment.

People with knowledge of the investigation said those caught on tape included former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes, who acknowledged that Ali gave her the bracelet.

Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.

Bishop denied receiving money. Brownlee said she couldn't recall taking a payment, and Brown declined to discuss the matter.

Sources say that as money changed hands, the conversations were often blunt.

In May 2011, Ali went to Brown's office and handed her an envelope with $2,000, according to people who have reviewed a transcript of a tape Ali made on that day.

As Brown accepted the money, they said, she put it in her purse and said: "Yo, good looking and Ooowee. . . . Thank you twice."

After he gave Brown the money, Ali urged her to vote against a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls, the sources said.

Brown voted against the measure - as did every other Democrat in the House.

In an interview Saturday, Brown's lawyer, Wadud Ahmad, said she had done nothing wrong. He said he had not been contacted by law enforcement and knew little about the investigation.

Ahmad, a former prosecutor, said, "I have never seen a prosecutor or any federal agent give someone a pass when they have strong evidence that they did something wrong."

Waters, for his part, said he did not recall receiving any money from Ali, but later added: "I'm trying to remember if he gave me something for my birthday."

In April 2011, to mark Waters' 61st birthday, Ali gave him $1,000, and the transaction was recorded on tape, according to people who read a transcript of the conversation.

As Ali handed Waters an envelope, the sources said, Ali told him: "Hey, there's $1,000 in there, bro."

According to the sources, Waters replied: "My man, happy birthday to Ron Waters."

Tynes, in interviews with The Inquirer, confirmed that Ali gave her the bracelet. She initially said she had mailed it back to him, but later said she had kept it, lost track of it, and recently discovered it in her safe deposit box at a local bank.

Those who sources say pocketed the cash failed to report it, as required by law, on annual financial disclosure forms for public officials, records show. Under state law, those omissions may be considered false swearing to authorities, a crime with a penalty of up to one year in jail.

Kane declined to be interviewed about her handling of the case and instead issued a statement attributed to her office.

In the statement, Kane provided only one quote, dismissing those who questioned her decisions as "nothing more than the Good Ol' Boys club playing political games to discredit me in order to fulfill their own selfish and improper agenda."

The statement cited Kane's pursuit of political-corruption cases, including the pay-to-play scandal involving Democrats tied to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the corruption charges brought last week against Democratic State Sen. LeAnna Washington.

After Kane took office, her top staff conducted a review of the sting operation, in partnership with FBI agents. In the end, she chose not to pursue it.

In addition to asking federal officials to assess the case, her office asked the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office in Harrisburg to review it as well.

In an interview, District Attorney Ed Marsico, a Republican, said his staff had reviewed a summary of the investigation prepared by Kane's staff and determined the case "almost unprosecutable."

He said he did not read the full case file or listen to the tapes or read the transcripts. Nor did his office talk to Ali, who Marsico said had refused to meet with his staff.

Kane's office insisted the case was dropped because it was flawed, not because she was reluctant to bring political-corruption cases.

In explaining the decision to close the sting investigation without filing charges, Kane said one reason was that prosecutors in the case had issued orders to target "only members of the General Assembly's Black Caucus" and to ignore "potentially illegal acts by white members of the General Assembly."

Fina, the lead prosecutor, declined to discuss the case. People who have spoken to him about the investigation said he vehemently denies that race was a factor.

Fina, now a prosecutor in the anticorruption unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, has called Kane's assertions a "desperate smear" based on falsehoods, said a person close to him.

Fina's supporters noted that Claude Thomas, the lead agent on the Ali case, is African American and that Ali also is a person of color.

Thomas, too, now works for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Williams, a Democrat, denounced Kane's suggestion that Fina or Thomas acted improperly.

"The notion that they would target anyone based on race is ridiculous," he said in a statement Saturday. "I am confident they are not racist, and it is regrettable that the Attorney General would casually throw around such an explosive accusation."

In the statement, Kane's office quoted the lead agent in the case (Thomas) as saying he had been told to target members of the Legislative Black Caucus.

People close to Thomas said no one ever gave him such an order and he never said such a thing to Kane's staff. Had anyone made such a suggestion, Thomas would have rejected it, they said.

The Inquirer pieced together the story of the aborted investigation from interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with different aspects of the inquiry - and with widely differing opinions of it.

The newspaper's reporting shows that the sting became entangled in - and perhaps fell victim to - a deep schism between Kane's new administration and veteran prosecutors who had worked for her predecessors and oversaw the investigation. The team was led by Fina, then chief deputy attorney general and head of the public-corruption unit.

Fina and his team had pursued a string of high-profile cases against both Republicans and Democrats, winning the conviction of 23 state legislators and aides in the Bonusgate and Computergate probes.

Those cases, political analysts agree, earned Corbett a reputation for pursuing Democrats and Republicans alike, and helped propel him into the governor's office.

Just weeks before Kane's January 2013 inauguration, those state prosecutors bundled up the investigation, including copies of all tapes, and shared the material with federal prosecutors. Federal authorities decided not to take the case. They have declined to say why.

State prosecutors went to the U.S. Attorney's Office because they believed Kane had a conflict and should not be making decisions on the case. Kane said Friday she had no such conflict.

The prosecutors believed that Kane had a conflict because Ali, before he began cooperating, had lined up illegal "straw" donations in 2009 that went to the campaign of Daniel D. McCaffery, then seeking to become Philadelphia district attorney. They pointed out that McCaffery was a supporter of Kane's, and had served as the master of ceremonies at her inauguration last year.

McCaffery, now a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge, declined to discuss his campaign or his relationship to Ali. Two people close to the campaign said McCaffery had no idea Ali had fronted money to other donors and that as soon as he found out, he reported it to law enforcement.

In the view of Kane's allies, she rightly shut down a flawed investigation - one that federal prosecutors decided not to pursue as well. In a statement, Kane's office said federal law enforcement officials - it did not specify from which agency - had pronounced the case "flawed and not prosecutable."

Her office also raised the issue of entrapment, saying the investigation had targeted individuals without sufficient suspicion that they were predisposed to corruption. And it said the sting often failed to explicitly link payments to a quid pro quo of official action.

As a consequence, the office said, the investigation was marred by a lack of "quality control" that would have made the cases difficult to win in court.

"Is the acceptance of cash alarming? Absolutely," said one person close to Kane. "But you've got to think: I've got to try this case."

Supporters of the investigation reject that criticism.

They said the sting was overseen by prosecutors with a record of winning convictions against Democrats and Republicans alike.

They maintained that the prosecutions of those who accepted money would have been straightforward. For one thing, they said, politicians can be convicted for pocketing cash on grounds that they are using their office to enrich themselves - even if they have not promised any official action in exchange.

Those who supported continuing the investigation said they believed that Kane made a politically driven decision to spurn a case that was, in the words of one former prosecutor who was briefed on the inquiry by Fina, "a bombshell."

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I think Kane just destroyed her chances at representing PA in Congress. This will not go over well with any area outside Philly, considering that these were real bribes and they were all recorded on tape.

The finger-pointing that the investigation was racially motivated has no real basis unless someone can come up with some hard information that says Fink targeted the Philly Black Caucus specifically. Considering that another prosecutor who is black was also one of the lead people working on it--seems unlikely.
PA DNC has it's own version of Eric Holder
"In 4 more OMao years you won't like how America looks....I guarantee it."
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” -- Thomas Jefferson
The only platforms that she will ever be able to run on are racism and the war on women. Dodgy
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Admit nothing.  Deny everything. Demand proof.
If we lie to the government, it's a crime. If the government lies to the people, it's called politics.
Paying for welfare is slavery.
ArcticSplash;138307 Wrote:I think Kane just destroyed her chances at representing PA in Congress. This will not go over well with any area outside Philly, considering that these were real bribes and they were all recorded on tape.

The finger-pointing that the investigation was racially motivated has no real basis unless someone can come up with some hard information that says Fink targeted the Philly Black Caucus specifically. Considering that another prosecutor who is black was also one of the lead people working on it--seems unlikely.

Any investigation begun by a Republican that catches minority or homosexual Democrats is immediately considered biased, and her dismissing it will be ignored by each and every Democrat because all hail the party line.

And the Republicans are to scared to play the "look what they did" card, especially since the left and media are already setting up the 2016 election cycle as a referendum that anything said negatively towards a woman is now mysoginistic, because they are gearing up to get Hillary in office.
Vampire pig man since September 2012
Unbanned since September 2012.
(03-17-2014, 09:15 AM)jahwarrior72 Wrote: Cunt.

Fixed it for you

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RocketFoot's Minion since 09-07-2012
I think Corbett should form a special commission to investigate the matter. They need to determine:

1) What sparked the investigation?
2) What was the evidence that was collected during the investigation? (video, pictures, recordings, testimony, audits, records, etc.)
3) How was the evidence collected during the investigation?
4) Is the evidence credible? (recordings are more credible than testimony, also some sources are more credible than others)
5) Does the evidence show one or more persons breaking the law?
6) Why was the investigation terminated?

If all of those questions are given legimate answers, then the parties who broke the law need to be charged, and the attorney general needs to be impeached.
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Dems showing that total disregard for the rule of law.
tolerance for failure meter... LOW
Kane is not happy that nobody is believing her:

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