A Philadelphia newspaper reports Wednesday that federal officials never came to a final conclusion about the merits of a suspended legislative sting operation before Attorney General Kathleen Kane asked them to halt that review.Kane, after revelations last month that she had decided to abandon the case - in which several Philadelphia-area officials were caught on tape accepting cash and other gifts from an informant posing as a lobbyist - stated that her decision had been endorsed by federal law enforcement officials who she has not identified by name.Those officials, Kane stated, deemed the case "flawed and non-prosecutable."But today's report in The Philadelphia Inquirer, also relying on unidentified sources and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, challenges Kane's assertions.
The Inquirer's sources, whom besides Williams the paper identified as Williams' colleagues in law enforcement and private attorneys familiar with the case, assert that federal authorities never made any judgment on the case after it was handed over in late 2012 by then-chief deputy attorney general Frank Fina, who had supervised the sting probe for Kane's predecessor in the state office.
Fina joined Williams' staff in Philadelphia in January 2013, shortly after Kane took office.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia, which received Fina's file, has declined to comment directly on the dispute so far, including specifically whether they ever intended to take the case, or whether Kane's office sought the case file back.
The top agent at Philadelphia's FBI office, Edward J. Hanko, has indicated previously that his office did at least review the case to determine whether public officials' alleged acceptance of cash payments violated federal law.
It is not clear whether that is the federal review that Kane has cited.
For The Inquirer's
Fina, sources have told PennLive, took the sting case to federal prosecutors after Kane's 2012 election in part because he believed Kane would have a conflict of interest in dealing with it, and felt a transfer would be best for all sides.
The genesis of that conflict, sources have told The Inquirer and Penn Live, involved campaign donations going from Tyron Ali, who would become the informant in the sting case, to a Philadelphia political campaign involving people who later became strong supporters of Kane's bid for attorney general.
Ali was familiar to the feds, sources said, because he had worked for them as an informant in the past.
pointing to her record over the past 15 months of pursuing public corruptionarrests against officials of both major political parties.
She has stated that the proposed legislative sting case was tainted by a "deal-of-the-century" enabling Ali to get out from under theft and fraud charges; an appearance of racial targeting; and other problems.
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