Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's driver was convicted Tuesday of contempt of court after a judge found he snooped through office mails to keep tabs on a secret grand jury investigating his boss.
Patrick Reese faces up to six months in jail, but his lawyer vowed to appeal the misdemeanor verdict.
Reese is a former small-town police chief near Scranton, Kane's hometown, who has emerged as a close confidante during her troubled tenure. He makes just under $100,000 to head her security detail.
The email snooping occurred while the attorney general last year was being investigated for allegedly leaking evidence from a 2009 grand jury case to the press. Prosecutors ultimately charged her with obstruction, perjury and other charges.
Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter had ordered Kane's staff not to interfere with the 2014 grand jury. He found Tuesday that Reese had violated his Aug. 27 order.
Reese's attorney, William Fetterhoff, called the order "flawed and dangerous" because he said his client and others in the office never knew about it. As for the email hunt, he said Reese was merely trying to figure out who was leaking information to reporters about Kane.
Prosecutors, though, said the terms he searched had little to do with media leaks — and everything to do with the Kane grand jury.
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The information that Reese gleaned included witness names and emails between Carpenter, special prosecutor Thomas Carluccio and others. Fetterhoff said there was no evidence that Reese had read the emails or attachments.
"To suggest that Mr. Reese opened these emails ... but did not read them is utterly laughable," Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick argued Tuesday.
He said the evidence suggests that Kane ordered the snooping, although none of the witnesses called this week said that. Reese did not testify.
Kane's deputies said she was upset about Carpenter's protective order and told aides to challenge it. At the same time, Reese simply defied it, prosecutors said.
Kane has said she is being targeted as she tries to address a corrupt, good-old boy network in Pennsylvania politics. She has turned the table on rivals in and outside of the Attorney General's Office, accusing them of sharing pornographic, racist and misogynist emails on state servers. She is fighting to stay in office after the state Supreme Court suspended her law license over the criminal case.