Former Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the prosecutor who famously claimed anabolic steroids were just as deadly and dangerous as heroin, has been sentenced to 10 to 23 months in prison after being convicted of two felony perjury charges and seven misdemeanor charges.
Kane was an aggressive anti-drug warrior who thoroughly enjoyed the job of putting steroid users and traffickers behind bars. In 2013, Kane obtained $2.5 million in state funding for a Mobile Street Crimes Unit that targeted illegal drug trafficking. The program resulted in hundreds of quick arrests involving mostly street-level heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine busts. The Mobile Street Crimes Unit program became a hallmark of Attorney General Kane’s administration.
However, Kane made no distinction between hard drugs like heroin and muscle-building drugs like anabolic steroids in her war on drugs. To her, steroids and heroin were equally dangerous and destructive and should be targeted by law enforcement just the same. AG Kane brought home this point during a press release announcing the arrest of 13 individuals involved in “two transcontinental anabolic steroids rings” in an investigation codenamed “Operation Gym Candy”.
“Anabolic steroids can cause deadly side effects, and are as much of a public health risk as heroin or other narcotics, especially when users ‘stack’ them,” Attorney General Kane was quoted in the press release. “This illegal manufacturing has been shut down and will no longer be able to supply dangerous drugs that can do great harm to people’s long-term health.”
Many bodybuilders feel that Attorney General Kane finally got her comeuppance for making such a ridiculous assertion that anabolic steroids represent the same public health risk as heroin. This is especially true given that it was not merely an ignorant belief without consequences. It was one that resulted in the prosecution and incarceration of several otherwise law-abiding individuals who were involved with steroids while unfairly equating them with heroin users and dealers.
Kane tearfully testified on her own behalf during the sentencing hearing. She begged Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy to show her leniency by allowing her to avoid prison. Kane argued that the conviction itself – which destroyed her career, ruined her reputation and gave her the permanent stigma of being a convicted felon – was sufficient punishment. In addition, Kane asked the judge to consider the welfare of her two teenage sons and pleaded for mercy so that they would be spared the extended separation from their mother. Kane insisted she was not a threat to society and did not deserve prison.
“Maybe I deserve everything I get, [but] they don’t,” Kane said of her children. “I am not going to ask for your mercy because I don’t care about me any more. I would cut off my right arm if they were separated from me and I from them. Please sentence me and not them.”
The pleas should sound familiar to the former Pennsylvania Attorney General. But Kane didn’t care about the reputations, the careers, the children or the families of the steroid users and dealers that she prosecuted. And the steroid cases involved what amounted to essentially a victimless crime in which bodybuilders used steroids for no other purpose than to improve their physical appearance and/or their performance.
But Kane’s crime was much more serious. It involved the gross abuse of her official authority as the chief law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania to pursue vengeance against a political foe. Prosecutors described Kane as a paranoid prosecutor who was obsessed with perceived enemies, who spied on various judges, prosecutors, reporters and aides and who sought to collect potentially damaging information on those who crossed her.
In 2014, Kane arranged the illegal release of confidential grand jury documents to advance a personal vendetta against former Pennsylvania Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank G. Fina. Kane instructed her aides to deliver the documents to a reporter with the Philadelphia Daily News in order to plant a story that was intended to embarrass Fina.
But that’s not all. Kane attempted to cover up her involvement and frame someone else for the leak. Then she lied about it under oath. A Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court jury found Kane guilty of two felony counts of perjury and seven misdemeanor counts including obstruction, official oppression and false swearing after only five hours of deliberation.
Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy could have sentenced Kane to a maximum of 28 years in prison. Instead, she sentenced her to a maximum of 23 months. Judge Demchick-Alloy said the possibility of avoiding incarceration was out of the question.
“The case is about ego, ego of a politician consumed by her image from Day One,” Judge Demchick-Alloy lectured Kane. “And instead of focusing solely on the business of fighting crime, the focus was battling these perceived enemies… and utilizing and exploiting her position to do it…
“Any lesser sentence than total confinement will absolutely depreciate the seriousness of the crime. A violation of this magnitude and severity is an extraordinary abuse of the system. It’s a shame that [your children] have to go through all this. That’s a decision you made, not this court.”
Kane’s attorneys are appealing the conviction. When this is all over, Kane expressed her desire to continue doing the things she loves – one of which is fighting the war on drugs in some capacity.