A Harrisburg ethics activist and supporters of embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane are blasting a decision to offer counseling, not pink slips to employees ensnared in a scandal over pornographic emails on state computers.
District Attorney Seth Williams announced Friday — on the eve of a holiday weekend — that three prosecutors in his office who had sent and received NSFW emails when they worked for the Attorney General Kathleen Kane would keep their jobs.
"After knowing about his employees' possible involvement with questionable emails for almost eleven months," good government activist Gene Stilp said in a statement, "Seth Williams only took weak disciplinary action when the new batch of emails were released by the Supreme Court in late August, 2015. That's very poor investigative work by District Attorney Williams."
The emails were unsealed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last as part of a tangled, years-long tale of intrigue stemming from the investigation into Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Kane, who is facing perjury charges over the alleged leak of grand jury information, contends that the investigation into the leak was manufactured by Frank Fina as revenge for her inquiry into porn on state computers. .
Fina, along with Patrick Blessington and Marc Costanzo now work as prosecutors in Philadelphia. But all are veterans of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, where they allegedly sent and received the emails.
News of the emails prompted an internal investigation.
"We found no evidence or suggestion of any inappropriate e-mail behavior by these three employees during their time to date in my office," Williams' office said late Friday, "but if we did I would certainly terminate them.
Kane's supporters plan a rally in Harrisburg Sept. 10.
"It is outrageous that Seth Williams is not going to terminate Fina and Costanza. I don’t see how they can be expected to have the integrity to prosecute minorities and women fairly," said Kane supporter Diane Gochin.
Williams, in his Friday statement said that the derogatory tone found in the emails "were not reflected in the work relationships of the three specific employees who have been the focus of the attorney general’s filings. On the contrary, the employers, employees, and colleagues with whom we spoke – and who included both women and blacks – described these employees as hardworking, dedicated prosecutors who were never disrespectful to them as females or minorities."
The emails, about 400 pages of them, include parodies of motivational posters. One depicts a woman performing oral sex on a man under the caption “Devotion: Making Your Boss Happy is Your Only Job.”
Another features a person who bears a striking resemblance to Col. Sanders, the mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken, holding a bucket of KFC while fighting two black men. The caption reads: “Bravery at it’s finest.”
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Fina was a key prosecutor in the investigation of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach serving a 30 to 60 year prison sentence for molesting 10 boys he met through his charity.
Kane rode to office in part on a promise to find out why it took so long to charge Jerry Sandusky with sex crimes. Investigators in that case say they needed to find numerous victims to overcome the challenge of Sandusky’s notoriety in central Pennsylvania. That review found inexplicable delays but no political interference in the Sandusky investigation.