SUNBURY — Senior Judge Barry Feudale questions why it took a judicial order for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to bring alleged evidence to light that Feudale himself leaked confidential information illegally.
Kane accuses Feudale, a retired Northumberland County jurist, of sharing classified Supreme Court documents with two reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer. She hasn’t ruled out that additional leaks came from within her own office.
If what she intends to present to Senior Judge John Cleland affects her staff’s work to keep convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky behind bars, Feudale says it should have already been shared internally.
“If she truly has something, she should be sharing it with her attorneys in the Office of the Attorney General,” Feudale said Friday.
“It sounds to me like she’s trying to assist Sandusky’s attorney,” he said. “She’s in a way trying to impact her attorneys who are trying to uphold Sandusky’s conviction.”
Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, is challenging his 2012 conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse against children. Among the claims is that calculated leaks unfairly favored prosecutors. He’s serving a minimum of 30 years in prison and, as reported Friday by PennLive.com, is held in restrictive housing for his own protection.
Feudale presided over the grand jury that indicted Sandusky. Frank Fina, a former Snyder County resident and a Kane foe, was the lead prosecutor. Kane launched an investigation into the handling of the case on accusations it was slowed out of political favor for the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Corbett, the one-time attorney general during the Sandusky investigation. Kane’s review couldn’t prove the accusations.
What, exactly, Kane will reveal to Cleland under seal is unknown. It’s due Wednesday. A spokesman denies Feudale’s claim that Kane is aiding Sandusky’s post-conviction action.
“The attorney general is in no way interested in assisting the Sandusky defense,” Chuck Ardo said. “Her comments about Judge Feudale’s behavior relate to his release of secret Supreme Court information and has nothing to do with the Sandusky trial in any way.”
Judy Ritter, a criminal law professor with Widener University’s Delaware campus, said Cleland could be looking to see whether the alleged leaked information in any way shows bias by Feudale in his role as the grand jury judge and if the jury pool was somehow contaminated as a result.
“Bias on behalf of the judge is a constitutional issue. It’s a due process problem,” Ritter said.
If it’s established that confidential information was leaked and affected the case, Sandusky’s conviction could be set aside and he could get a new trial, Ritter said.
“That’s a big if,” Ritter emphasized.
Feudale and Kane are again locked in battle more than two years after Kane successfully petitioned to have Feudale removed as a grand jury judge.
Kane reported Feudale’s alleged leaks to the Judicial Conduct Board, her office announced Wednesday. On Thursday, Cleland ordered Kane to provide proof, which she agreed to do. Cleland is presiding over Sandusky’s post-conviction request to vacate his conviction.
Feudale, who claims sensitive files were stolen from his office in 2013 by Kane or someone else at her direction, favors Cleland’s order. He says it calls Kane’s credibility into question.
Feudale says he has his own proof linking Kane and her “agents” to violations of laws and ethics. He plans to submit his findings early next week to the state Supreme Court among others and is petitioning to have his accusations reviewed by a grand jury.
“I believe Kane’s acts/omissions reflect her as being the most corrupt, dishonest, deceptive politically motivated ‘public servant’ I have encountered in my 28 years as a judge,” Feudale wrote in a statement to the media Thursday.
Ardo called the allegation “alarming.”
“(Feudale) has had a long-standing disagreement with the attorney general. We look forward to seeing what evidence he has to back up his allegations,” Ardo said.
Charges of felony perjury and related counts were filed against Kane on Aug. 6 in another case for allegedly leaking grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News and lying about it. Her law license remains under suspension, and state senators are forming a committee to potentially remove her from the elected office.
Maintaining his stance that he wouldn’t violate secrecy rules, Feudale points to an order of his own in February 2013 where he tasked two special prosecutors to investigate allegations of leaks regarding the case against three Penn State administrators indicted in the wake of the Sandusky investigation, including ex-university president Graham Spanier.
The following May, Feudale was removed from grand jury deliberations. He says Kane failed to follow through on two orders to support the six-month investigation. An email from one of the prosecutors to Feudale speaks of frustration with the process.
“Ken Brown and I (James Reeder) are feeling somewhat adrift in regard to our special prosecutor assignment. ... The Office of the Attorney General is not cooperating with our requests for material,” Reeder wrote to Feudale in June 2013.
Had he remained on the grand jury, and had Kane not cooperated with the special prosecutors, Feudale said he would have held her in contempt himself.
“She never went forward with the investigation, and that’s a violation of an order of the court,” he said.
Ardo said he was unaware of the orders.