EDITORIAL: Kathleen Kane deserves to serve prison time
Our long Pennsylvania nightmare is over.
OK, we're borrowing liberally from Gerald Ford's 1974 presidential inauguration speech, but the sentiment is still appropriate more than four decades later in our own little corner of the world.
Ford, of course, was talking about the “long national nightmare” our country had just suffered through during the early 1970s while enduring the Watergate scandal. It culminated with Richard Nixon's resignation as president in August of 1974.
Ford replaced Nixon and made his comments in an effort to comfort a distraught nation.
Something similar happened Wednesday, Aug. 17, in the Keystone State, when Kathleen Kane mercifully resigned as the Pennsylvania attorney general. That ended her 3 1/2-year scandal-ridden stint as the state's top law-enforcement officer — a tenure that was equal parts vindictive, petty and corrupt.
The resignation came just two days after she was convicted in Montgomery County Court of all nine charges against her in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak. Despite her claims of innocence, the jurors agreed that Kane leaked information about a 2009 grand jury probe to embarrass a rival prosecutor.
Her attorneys vowed to appeal, but as it stands, she's now a convicted felon.
The 50-year-old Kane was a one-time rising star in the Democratic party, after using her then-husband's trucking fortune to run and win state-wide office in 2012. Now Kane faces a black hole of a future.
Perjury, the only felony charged that Kane was convicted of, can bring up to seven years in prison.
Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 24. Montgomery County judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy will decide Kane's fate.
The legal prognosticators are already weighing in. Some believe Kane will get a slap on the wrist and be sentenced to probation. After all, she's a first-time offender and committed a nonviolent crime. Some say she's suffered enough, having already lost her law license, her job and her reputation.
Others, however, believe Kane will receive at least some prison time. The two perjury counts she was convicted of are third-degree felonies and have a standard sentencing guideline range of probation to nine months in prison for each count.
In our opinion, Kane deserves at least some prison time — preferably at least six months to a year. As the state's top law enforcement officer, she must be held to the highest of standards when it comes to her legal behavior. That should definitely be considered an aggravating circumstance when determining her sentence.
If the judge lets her off with probation, it will only reinforce a prevalent feeling within the community at large that if you're rich, famous and white, you'll get preferential treatment in court, especially if you commit what is generally considered a white-collar crime.
That notion must be debunked.
More importantly, however, Kane simply deserves to sit behind bars for a stretch.
That will give her plenty of time to reflect on the fact that she betrayed the public trust of thousands of Pennsylvanians who voted for her and counted on her to enforce the law that she eventually violated.