Tuesday, December 29

The PA Corruption Network's Playbook

The similarities between the prosecution of Kathleen Kane and of the PSU 3 reveal the "playbook" of Pennsylvania's corruption network

Ray Blehar

The cases of current Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) Kathleen Kane and that of former Penn State University (PSU) officials (i.e., the PSU 3) are connected by a common thread.

A group of the Commonwealth's attorneys, judges, political operatives, and their media accomplices -- hereafter referred to as the "network" -- used trumped up charges, purposely misinterpreted laws, and oversold highly dubious evidence to convict these individuals in the court of public opinion.

After examining the timelines and evidence of these cases, it appears that the network has a well defined playbook for taking out its targets and it works like this:

1.  Individuals within the network fear their own heinous acts may be exposed and publicly accuse their opponents of crimes as a means of  deflecting attention away from themselves. 

2.  The network next co-opts individuals close to the target(s) --insiders -- to assist in setting up the target(s) to be charged with perjury and other crimes.

3.  After the insiders have sufficiently undermined the targets (using various means of deception), the network's attorneys and/or judges leak damaging information about the targets to the media

4.  The media arm of the network uses the information in an attempt to compromise the targets or to promote guilt by association in the press.

5.  At the conclusion of this "framing," that was mislabeled as a criminal investigation, attorneys go public with charging documents that allege crimes based on misinterpretations of the laws and that are chocked full of questionable testimony from unreliable witnesses, completely illogical scenarios, and dubious evidence.  Perjury charges are standard in order to publicly smear the defendants as being dishonest individuals while attempting to pump up the veracity of the Commonwealth's lousy witnesses (who would be eviscerated at an actual trial).

6.  The media accomplices ignore the illegal application of relevant laws, that the charging documents are illogical, the lousy witnesses, and the highly questionable evidence in order to continue treating the allegations as facts and even go as far as to allege the target committed crimes for which he or she has not been charged.

7.  The public falls for the deception and believes the targets are guilty of everything and are corrupt individuals -- whether they have been charged with a crime or not. Citizen activists, public officials, and other groups and individuals -- who are beneficiaries of the corrupt network -- jump on the media bandwagon to publicly condemn the targets.

8.  Witting and/or unwitting employers recommend the targets be relieved of their duties or actually do so through employment actions -- before anything is proven and without conducting a legitimate legal review.  

9.  When legal proceedings in the cases reveal the false and questionable testimony put forth in the charging documents and the dubious evidence used in the case, the network's media arm ignores the information and continues to slant the reports so the public continues to assume the targets are guilty.

10.  The legal issues from the misapplications of the laws result in appeals to the network's  judges, who refused to rule on simple matters and keep the trials on permanent hold.  If the cases make it to trial, the targets will be convicted of lesser crimes -- that the media will treat like crimes of the century.

The network's playbook achieves the goal of protecting its corrupt dealings and/or heinous crimes by never legally proving, but publicly scapegoating the targets in a media firestorm that is high in supposition and light on facts.

To wit:  the grand jury and Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman did not find the evidence to charge AG Kane with directly leaking grand grand jury information in the Mondesire case, but you wouldn't know that if you just read the news headlines

Instead, they charged her with perjury (part of the playbook), lesser crimes, and for orchestrating the leaks, the latter of which Ferman and others know can't be proven.

Then again, the network's playbook doesn't necessarily include actually prosecuting the case -- because the media has already done it. 

In the following weeks, the dubious evidence used in Kane's case will be exposed, as will the details showing how the network of attorney, judges, and media worked together in an attempt to prevent AG Kathleen Kane from breaking PA's chain of corruption.

Thursday, December 24

Silverwood: Irony, Fina, & the Final Analysis

By Wendy Silverwood
December 23, 2015

Controversy continues to swirl around the Philadelphia's District Attorney's office.

“D.A. Seth Williams has come under fire because of three of his prosecutors who are allegedly involved in the so-called "#porngate" scandal - the collection of pornographic, misogynistic, racist and homophobic e-mails that went viral through state government.”

“Caught up in the scandal are three of the D.A.'s top prosecutors: Frank Fina, Pat Blessington, and Marc Constanzo who were part of the chain that exchanged filthy e-mails when Fina and Constanzo worked for the State of Pennsylvania.” http://6abc.com/news/vernon-odom-go...

The irony in all this? If Frank Fina, under the tutelage of Tom Corbett, had just prosecuted Sandusky and left Penn State alone, #hategate and #porngate never happens & Seth Williams remains unscathed.

Frank Fina engineered a failed “flip” strategy against the 3 PSU administrators (Tim Curley, Gary Schultz & Graham Spanier) when placing a singular lie in Linda Kelly’s grand jury presentment of November 2011. The intent was to have Curley & Schultz “flip” or testify against Corbett’s intended target of the presentment - Dr. Spanier- in order to save their own backsides. A singular lie - passed off as the unassailable truth, accidently fueled by the sports media - using the Paterno name as clickbait - roared into a massive media firestorm that burned millions of acres, the embers of which are still smoldering away today.

Just imagine what would not have happened had these public officials just done their jobs without Tom Corbett trying to destroy then PSU President Graham Spanier in the process.

1.      Sandusky is investigated & prosecuted based on available credible victim testimony. Tom Corbett & his Office of Attorney General wins election points & the “optics” are still positive.
2.     There is no public outrage across the commonwealth over Tom Corbett’s actions in allegedly slowwalking the Sandusky investigation from his AG days.
3.     Louis Freeh never gets involved. (‘nuff said)
4.     The NCAA never gets their foot in the door - “shooting roadkill” in order to improve their crummy “optics” at our commonwealth’s and Penn State’s expense.
5.     Kathleen Kane may or may not attain the AG’s Office. But - #porngate & #hategate emails never get discovered. (see #2)
6.     The Office of Attorney General continues to cruise along (no matter who is at the helm) doing what they do in “Protecting ALL Pennsylvanians”.
7.     There is no political turmoil and public outrage over the Judiciary in our commonwealth.
8.     There is no "blood feud"and acrimony in, around and among state offices, state officials, Montgomery County officials and the Philadelphia DA’s office.
9.     Seth Williams doesn’t have the City Councilwomen, PhilaNOW & the Philadelphia press all up in his grill. He might even have attained that PSU trustee seat he coveted.
10. And the best one? The public would be no wiser to the level of corruption and behavior of those in commonwealth public office.

Everyone in public office WINS!

At one point, Frank Fina figured it out and tried to stand up for Joe Paterno in the Armen Keteyian/ 60 Minutes interview in September 2013, but it was far too late by then - how do you walk back the media firestorm & the carnage you created? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sandusk...

Tom Corbett makes a weak statement in standing up for Joe Paterno & admonishing his fellow Trustees in June 2014, but that ship sailed years before and by this time he is dead man walking politically. http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/spo...

There were several points along the way where, if any of these players would have backed off, the public would have been blissfully unaware of the unethicial and corrupt practices among our jurists, state prosecutors, US attorneys and the media. But, personal vendettas and petty politics pressed on, a politicial game of chicken took over, to the point of even allegedly violating the law.

When this all shakes out, and Frank Fina is being interviewed by the Feds, he will perhaps have a moment in which he recalls telling Tom Corbett not to do this, or even urges him not to do it. If he is lucky he will have an email somewhere memorializing his advice. 

As Frank Fina's assiduously-managed career changes from a smoky smolder to a white hot flame, consuming everything he is, surely when he is passing blame he does not forget his old friend Tom Corbett and their failed “flip” strategy against those Penn State administrators - and by extension, the larger Penn State community. 

This failed strategy cost Frank Fina his career. It cost Tom Corbett his career. 

It elected Kathleen Kane, who has thus far gone off like an IED in the middle of the PA judiciary and prosecutorial/law enforcement function. Anyone who survives this will carry the battle scars. 

Former Penn State Trustees Karen Peetz, Ken Frazier, John Surma, Steve Garban, Ira Lubert, Dave Joyner, Paul Suhey, Cynthia Baldwin, Anne Riley and the others from November 2011; along with interim President Rodney Erickson ..... an entire generation of Penn Staters will never know whatever good they may have achieved, because their legacy is now solely one of shame and betrayal.

Maybe defaming 4 principals of the university - along with staff, students, faculty, alumni & family by enlisting corporate clean up artist & #liar4hire Louis Freeh to promote a narrative about “football culture” run amok & “actively conspiring to conceal for fear of bad publicity” resulting in every uniformed loudmouth in the country calling Penn Staters pedophile lovers and child rape enablers was a bad call?

Maybe deciding to never open and peer into that Pandora’s Box over at the Second Mile and Centre County Children & Youth Services and local/state foster & adoptive services - choosing instead to keep the false narrative anchored up on campus was a failed tactic? 

Maybe dragging locally-influential Penn State alumni from across the commonwealth and other states away from their regular lives and tarring them with this same “child rape enabler” brush, radicalizing them in the process and driving them out of their regular lives and into the streets, was a mistake as well?

So perhaps, in the final analysis, it will be determined to have been a disastrous calculation for those mentioned above to involve over a half million graduates of the flagship institution of the commonwealth. Lots of bad things came out of the decision to demonize Penn State. But our job is to make some good things come from it. 

We cannot change the narrative, maybe, but we can change the ultimate outcome.

A tip of the hat to a few fellow Penn Staters for their oh-so-eloquent prose.

Wednesday, December 16

Keisling: The Palace Coup

KEISLING: Palace coup: what the Kathleen Kane prosecution is really about

Breaking: Kane’s staff has approved one of two contracts needed to hire a special prosecutor to investigate the porno email scandal
by Bill Keisling
Have Republicans in the top levels of Pennsylvania government and courts engineered a takeover of the Democratic-controlled state attorney general’s office?
Has this high-level palace coup taken place under everyone’s noses?
Kathleen Kane
Kathleen Kane
Are the criminal charges brought by Republican officials against AG Kane, her subsequent law license suspension, and efforts by the state senate to remove her from office all simply a ruse meant to distract voters from what is really going on: an attempt by Republicans to control policy in the attorney general’s office, and throughout state government, without having won an election?
Recent developments in all three branches of Pennsylvania government make these reasonable questions.
Several weeks ago, on November 18, four high-level staffers from the AG’s office testified before the state senate committee exploring AG Kane’s removal from office that they’ve been running nearly all the office’s legal functions since Kane could no longer practice law.
First Deputy Attorney General Bruce Beemer, and three executive deputy attorneys general — Robert Mulle, James Donahue, and Lawrence Cherba– testified they have effectively taken control of the elective attorney general’s office following Kane’s unprecedented law license suspension.

Wednesday, December 2

PS4RS: We Mourn the Loss of Gary Levitt

Gary Levitt
   February 17, 1943 - December 1, 2015
Like many of you, I learned of Gary Levitt's unexpected passing this morning. I received a call from his wife Barbara, and in our brief, but emotional conversation, she said, “Maribeth, you got the very best of him.” Those words have stuck with me throughout the day, because I know what Barbara meant was that Gary gave his everything to US, collectively – to our entire Penn State community -- particularly in the last four years. Gary and I were kindred agency spirits, fellow alums with shared Penn State experiences more than three decades apart, and partners in crime when it came to amplifying the voice of saddened, frustrated, yet passionate, relentless Penn Staters. In the early days of PS4RS, it wasn’t difficult to pick out Gary as the ad man in our group. With every Facebook post or comment, his finesse, intelligence, knowledge and passion reflected someone who lived and breathed every aspect of Penn State. I often called him Philadelphia’s original ‘Mad Man.’ In its heyday, Gary’s well-known ad agency ran some of Philadelphia’s most successful political campaigns, worked for such coveted clients as Wendy’s (where he met Franco Harris for the first time) and the PA Lottery, and was even the inspiration for the hit TV show “ThirtySomething.” So, for me, it wasn’t a stretch (although maybe a little intimidating at first) to tap our very own Don Draper when PS4RS was charged with its first membership campaign back in September 2012. We were going out with billboards, courtesy of a generous donor, and we needed a headline. The very first one that Gary proposed still stands today as our rallying cry…as poignant as the day he wrote it.
“You can’t cover up 61 years of success with honor.”
Gary penned every headline the organization has published since, and was instrumental in communications strategy for each subsequent successful campaign. While words were never difficult for him to find, keeping them under wraps until we unveiled them to the PS4RS membership was a constant challenge! He became ‘the cat who ate the canary’ every single time we had a new ad to share, and often put me in the hot seat with PS4RS leadership when he teased our communications plans in just a little too much detail. No doubt, his excitement stemmed from his pure passion for our cause. As has been said in so many other posts today, Gary was a true warrior, the ultimate Penn State cheerleader. He believed in his heart that our effort since November 2011 had made a big difference and he was committed to seeing it through. I just found an email he had sent to me in April 2012, on the eve of a meeting we had scheduled with Karen Peetz, Mark Dambly and Keith Masser.
“It is the incompetence of this Board and the impotence of this Administration that we really can't tolerate,” he wrote. “Of course, Joe's reputation and legacy must be made whole. There is absolutely no movement on that issue. They must earn Sue Paterno's public forgiveness and support. They must acknowledge that mistakes were made and that it will be their mission in the coming months to right those wrongs. No weasel words. No CYA statements. No excuses. A sincere apology followed by taking the lead in honoring the man who has meant so much to so many of us for so many decades. If that's the recipe for Kool-aid, then show the world how good it tastes.”
As with Gary’s headlines, his marching orders also still ring true today. He voiced the words we have all felt in our hearts since the day we were brought together.
We will all surely miss Gary’s gentle barbs to those of us not lucky enough to soak up the Florida sun, and the pride he had for his Chestnut Hill grounds any time of the year, not to mention his occasional nudges toward holistic living and yoga practice. We’ll miss his love of family and friends that he shared so regularly, reminiscing of his Pittsburgh boyhood, and the many Philadelphia ad agency career highlights he was lucky to experience. We’ll miss the push ups he would predictably boast about during every Penn State game. Some of us will even miss his passionate political commentary and his online ‘jousting’ with those critical of our PS4RS mission. Most of all, though, I'm certain I will miss lunches and phone calls and emails with someone who taught me a lifetime’s worth of lessons in four short years....not the least of which was how to be a true Penn Stater.
May Gary rest in peace knowing we will continue his fight -- our fight -- for the glory of Penn State.

Maribeth Roman Schmidt