Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reaction to Kane Sentencing was Swift

Before the ink was even dry on the sentencing sheet for former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, comments came flooding in from those currently in charge of the office and those running in the upcoming election to succeed her.
Kathleen Kane/Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.

“Today is another sad day for the Commonwealth and its citizens. The Office of Attorney General is moving forward with steps to restore the public’s confidence in the work that we do and the way that we do it,” said Bruce R. Beemer, Kane’s former top deputy who was appointed to run the office after Kane’s perjury conviction and resignation in August. “The men and women of the OAG are dedicated public servants who do their jobs with integrity on a daily basis. That is what the public expects and deserves.”

Beemer, who was Kane’s chief of the criminal prosecution section, testified for prosecutors against Kane during her August trial.

Beemer testified at trial that Kane “was not happy” when she read a March 2014 Philadelphia Inquirer article that was “critical” of her. Prosecutors alleged that’s when Kane decided to retaliate against a former agent, who she blamed for the negative publicity, by orchestrating the release to a reporter of secret information regarding a 2009 grand jury investigation that the agent supervised and then didn’t pursue charges.

A news article with the secret information was published in June 2014.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” Beemer testified in August about seeing the article, adding it caused him to suspect a leak in the attorney general’s office. “I viewed it as quite problematic.”

Kane, 50, was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail and 8 years of probation on perjury and abuse of power charges. She remains free on bail while appealing her conviction.

The two candidates running in the Nov. 8 election to replace Kane also issued statements after her sentencing.

Joshua Shapiro/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
“In August, a jury of her peers determined Kathleen Kane’s guilt and today the court sentenced her to a prison term, showing that no one is above the law,” said Josh Shapiro, the Democrat for attorney general in the Nov. 8 election. “As the people’s attorney general, I’ll lead with integrity as I have throughout my career in public service and always protect the rights, safety and health of each and every Pennsylvanian. I will enforce the law without the fear or favor and work tirelessly to heal the breach of trust that exists in our justice system.”

Republican attorney general candidate John Rafferty said this:

“Today marks another sad chapter for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Office of Attorney General. This entire episode is a stark reminder of the damages of putting an individual in the Office of Attorney General who lacks the requisite experience for the office and is driven more by blind political ambition than doing what’s in the best interests of our Commonwealth. That is why I have pledged to only serve as our next attorney general and not run for higher office. My opponent refuses to take this pledge. As our next attorney general, I will restore integrity and public confidence to the office and refocus our efforts on protecting the people of Pennsylvania.”

Whoever wins the election will have their work cut out for them. Two of Kane’s former coworkers testified Monday that the criminal investigation of their leader hurt the agency and created a demoralizing atmosphere. 

“It was like a poisonous cloud over every corner of the office. The climate in there had become intolerable,” said Clarke Madden, a former deputy attorney general in the criminal law division, adding all employees of the agency were affected by the investigation and Kane's reaction to it. “It was like dancing on a trap door.”

Erik Olsen, currently a chief deputy attorney general who’s had a 30-year legal career, said, “Personally, this has been the worst three years of my professional career.”

Olsen testified he initially was “thrilled” when Kane was elected and attended her inauguration in 2012. Olsen believed Kane would be a good addition to an office he believed in the past had a “misogynistic” atmosphere.

But Olsen said things soon changed and he saw Kane becoming more “isolated.”

“Through a pattern of systematic firings and Nixonian espionage, she created a terror zone in this office,” Olsen testified.

Kane's former coworkers said the scandal hurt the reputation of the state office and agents carried it on their backs into every courtroom in the state. Other law enforcement agencies didn’t want to work with the attorney general’s office and victims didn’t trust the agency, they said.

 “We’re trying to repair relationships with law enforcement. It’s been a difficult two years,” Olsen said.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

PROSECUTORS: Kathleen Kane's Decision to Resign, "not a mitigating factor"

[NOTE: Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Margaret Kane faces sentencing Monday, Oct. 24 after a jury convicted her of charges of perjury and abuse of power, finding she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and engaged in acts designed to cover up her conduct. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking prison time; defense is seeking probation or house arrest.]

As Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele prepares for Kathleen Kane’s sentencing hearing, he has, in court papers, notified Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy of his opinion that Kane’s decision to resign as attorney general two days after her conviction is not a mitigating factor to consider for a lesser sentence.

Montco DA Kevin R. Steele

“Kane may well argue to the court at sentencing that her decision to resign as attorney general on August 17, 2016, two days after her conviction, is evidence of her remorse and should be considered as a mitigating factor for sentencing,” Steele and Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick wrote in court papers. “Such an argument would ring hollow.”

Steele maintained the Constitution of Pennsylvania provides that civil officers “shall be removed on conviction of misbehavior in office or of any infamous crime.” Citing state law, Steele said a crime is infamous “if its underlying facts establish a felony, a crimen falsi offense, or a like offense involving the charge of falsehood that affects the public administration of justice.”

“The removal of a civil officer after conviction of an infamous crime is to occur at the time of sentencing for the infamous crime, and the removal is imposed by the trial judge as part of the sentence,” Steele and McGoldrick contend.

 Accordingly, Steele argued, following her conviction on Aug. 15 “of several infamous crimes,” Kane would have been automatically removed from office by a judge at her Oct. 24 sentencing hearing, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

“Thus, her resignation on August 17 was not a sign of remorse or her part. Rather, it merely sped up what was a foregone conclusion by about nine weeks,” Steele and McGoldrick argued. “As such, Kane’s decision to resign should not be given any consideration as a mitigating factor at sentencing.”

Kathleen Kane/ Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.

Stay tuned. Kane learns her fate from Demchick-Alloy at 10 a.m. Monday. Follow @MontcoCourtNews for the latest developments.

DEFENSE: Kathleen Kane Did "a lot of good" as Pa. Attorney General

[NOTE: Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Margaret Kane faces sentencing Monday, Oct. 24 after a jury convicted her of charges of perjury and abuse of power, finding she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and engaged in acts designed to cover up her conduct. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking prison time; defense is seeking probation or house arrest.]

As Kathleen Kane’s defense lawyer Marc Robert Steinberg prepared for a Monday sentencing hearing that will decide Kane’s fate, hoping for a sentence of probation or house arrest for Kane, he asked Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy to consider the “good” Kane accomplished as the state’s top cop.

“Despite the conduct that brings her before the court, Kathleen accomplished a lot of good during her tenure as Pennsylvania’s chief law enforcement officer,” Steinberg, of Lansdale, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Montco Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy/ Mercury file photo

It remains to be seen if Demchick-Alloy considers the reported accomplishments as a mitigating factor in Kane’s favor when she imposes Kane’s punishment.

Steinberg listed the following Kane accomplishments:


In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Following the decision, several same-sex couples and members of their families sued state public officials, Steinberg said.

“Believing Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, Ms. Kane courageously said that she could not ethically defend the statute,” Steinberg wrote. “Ms. Kane faced opposition in defending her position, but upheld her sworn duty to defend the Constitutions of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Steinberg said the following year, the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania agreed with Kane, finding that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.


Motivated by a desire to combat the state’s growing heroin epidemic Kane advocated for the creation of a special unit to address the problem with narcotics, Steinberg said. Her request for state funds to establish the unit was granted and the mobile street crimes unit was created in 2013.

“In its first deployment alone, the unit made more than 100 arrests and seized approximately 35,000 packets of heroin in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. The unit’s success has been credited, in part, to its commitment to working with local police departments,” Steinberg claimed, adding former Hazelton officials have written letters on Kane’s behalf, “describing the tremendous improvements the mobile street crimes unit made in the lives of the citizens of Hazleton.”


Steinberg said prior to Kane’s election, Pennsylvanians who were denied concealed-carry gun permits in Pennsylvania could apply for those permits in Florida. Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreement with Florida allowed those Pennsylvanians denied a permit in Pa. to apply for one in Florida, receive the permit, and have that Florida permit recognized in Pa.
Kathleen Kane/Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.

Shortly after taking office, Kane, according to Steinberg, revised Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreement with Florida to restrict Pennsylvania’s recognition of a Florida concealed-carry permit to those held only by Florida residents, and requiring Pennsylvania residents to comply with the Pa. standards.

“By closing the ‘Florida loophole,’ Kathleen Kane ensured that Pennsylvania authorities would regulate the propriety of issuing concealed-carry permits for Pennsylvanians,” Steinberg wrote.


Steinberg said during Kane’s first year in office she facilitated an increase in the section’s budget from $1.3 million to $4.3 million, with the additional funds going toward the purchase of two mobile forensic trucks for on-scene computer analysis, establishing a state-of-the-art command center, hiring additional agents and lawyers and investing in additional training.

Steinberg claimed 2013 saw the arrests of 114 child predators, a six-fold increase over the section’s 2012 arrests.

“Child predator arrest numbers have continued to grow since that time, and the Child Predator Section remains a national leader in combatting crimes against children,” Steinberg said.


Steinberg said in 2013, Kane successfully prevented the privatization of the state’s lottery by arguing against a deal that would have allowed a British company to privately manage the lottery and share in both oversight of and profits from the lottery, a system that had generated $3.5 billion the year before the deal was presented.

Kathleen Kane/ Photo from Video by Carl Hessler Jr.
“All of those proceeds remain dedicated solely to programs benefitting senior citizens the only lottery in the country to do so,” Steinberg claimed, adding Kane argued the contract violated Pennsylvania law because it lacked authorization by the legislature, and illegally expanded gambling. 

“She contended that gambling laws implicate important social concerns and thereby protected the system of checks and balances requiring legislative input for modification or expansion of those laws. This success by Ms. Kane kept both funds and jobs in the commonwealth.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016

PROSECUTORS: Kathleen Kane Has "lack of remorse"

[NOTE: Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Margaret Kane faces sentencing Monday, Oct. 24 after a jury convicted her of charges of perjury and abuse of power, finding she orchestrated the illegal disclosure of secret grand jury information to the media and engaged in acts designed to cover up her conduct. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking jail time; defense is seeking probation or house arrest.]

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele filed papers in county court this week with Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy, arguing Kathleen Kane lacked remorse for her crimes. The following are excerpts taken directly from prosecutors’ sentencing memo:

Steele claimed the judge is free to consider Kane’s lack of remorse for her conduct so long as it is specifically considered in relation to the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense, and Kane’s rehabilitative needs, and is not based on her decision to remain silent at sentencing.
Montco DA Kevin R. Steele/ Submitted Photo

“From the moment she decided to leak the confidential materials to the press, Kane has exhibited her lack of remorse repeatedly in both her actions and her words,” Steele and co-prosecutor Thomas W. McGoldrick wrote.

In a presentence investigative interview Kane, according to prosecutors, stated, “People tend to play it safe. People elected me to do a job and I will do it. The thought of losing my kids over a job kills me.”

“It seems from this statement that Kane believes that her legal troubles stem from her simply doing the job that the people elected her to do. Nothing could be further from the truth,” prosecutors wrote. “Her legal troubles are the result of her conscious decision to break the law and to abuse her authority in order to strike back at perceived political enemies.”

In the presentence investigation evaluation, Kane, according to prosecutors, also stated her current circumstances were the result of a “30 second decision,” implying that an impulse choice triggered her legal problems.

“This statement is simply not true and it is an illustration of her lack of remorse. Kane’s subordinates looked for an old case of (her perceived political enemy’s) that she might be able to use against him, and, when they found one, she had her subordinates conduct an interview and gather together documents related to the case. These were calculated, deliberate steps and were not impulsive in any way,” Steele and McGoldrick argued.
Montco Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick/Mercury Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

“Also, if Kane truly had second thoughts about leaking the documents, she had ample opportunity to stop the train that she set in motion,” prosecutors wrote, explaining her trusted subordinate had the documents in his possession from April 23, 2014, until he delivered them to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter on May 4.

The Daily News didn’t publish the reporter’s story until June 6, which was more than six weeks after Kane orchestrated the delivery of the information, Steele and McGoldrick alleged.

Kathleen Kane/ Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.
“The truth is that Kane never second-guessed her decision to leak the documents,” prosecutors wrote.

“Moreover, her lack of remorse is seen in her actions and words during her effort to cover-up her crime and to actively thwart the investigation against her,” Steele wrote, claiming Kane made public statements that “there is no leak” and “I’m not concerned about anything” and attempted to have her subpoena to appear before a grand jury quashed by a higher court. “Her false statements to the public and her attempts to evade having to testify before the grand jury show her lack of remorse.”

Finally, Steele and McGoldrick, claimed that on Aug. 17, 2016, when Kane resigned from office after her conviction she spoke to reporters outside the attorney general’s offices in Scranton and “indicated that she had no regrets as her tenure came to an end.”

Kane, according to prosecutors, stated: “I try to live my life without regrets. I try to live every day like it’s my last. I try to do the best job I can every day. And I have no regrets. I hope that people see that we’ve done our best, and, you know, sometimes the price is high.”

“Again, it seems that Kane continues to argue that her legal troubles are the result of her simply doing her job as best she could and that she believes that she has done nothing wrong. This interview illustrates Kane’s clear lack of remorse for her criminal acts,” Steele and McGoldrick argued in court papers.

Kane, 50, did not testify at her trial. During the investigation, Kane claimed she did nothing wrong and implied the charges were part of an effort to force her out of office because she discovered pornographic emails being exchanged between state employees on state email addresses.

Stay tuned. Kane learns her fate on Monday.

DEFENSE: Kathleen Kane, from 'humble origins" to dedicated public servant

[NOTE: Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Margaret Kane faces sentencing Monday, Oct. 24 for perjury and abuse of power convictions. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking jail time; defense is seeking probation or house arrest.]

Defense lawyer Marc R. Steinberg filed papers in Montgomery County Court this week, providing Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy with “a complete picture” of Kathleen Kane’s life. The following are excerpts taken directly from court documents:

Kane was born June 14, 1966, in Scranton, Pa., to Joseph and Ellen Granahan and along with her twin sister, Ellen, older brother, Joseph, and younger brother, Mark, lived in different rented properties in Scranton. Her father was a janitor who picked up additional odd jobs to supplement his income and her mother worked at a convenience store and tended bar.
Kathleen Kane/ File Photo from Video by Carl Hessler Jr.

Kane’s parents divorced when she was in seventh grade and Steinberg said during this difficult time for her family Kane focused on work and on school. As a student in Scranton public schools Kane was a cheerleader and a member of the National Honor Society, and from the age of 13, held various after-school jobs.

Kane put herself through college, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Scranton in 1988. For the next two years, she worked to save money for law school, and ultimately graduated from Temple Law School in 1993, passing the bar exam the same year.

Between entering the workforce at age 13 and passing the bar exam, Kane held many jobs. She worked at the Lackawanna County Court House transferring files to microfilm and at Burger King, Steinberg said. Kane worked as a school bus aide with children with disabilities and as a cleaning lady. She was a waitress and a district sales manager for the Scranton Times. She was a candy striper and an employee of Hess’s Department Store. In short, Steinberg said, Kane never shied away from hard work and worked hard to make something of herself, "considering her humble origins."

After passing the bar exam, Kane began her legal career as an associate with Post & Schell, P.C. Interested in public service, Kane left corporate law in 1995 and joined the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office as an assistant prosecutor where she primarily prosecuted sex offenders, handling thousands of cases. During her 12 years as a prosecutor, Kane also led the district attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit and served as the first liaison to the office’s Mental Health Unit.

Kane left the DA’s office in 2007 to focus on raising her two sons. She also volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and volunteered with the Lackawanna County non-profit Hands on Hope, a charity that assisted struggling families to remain in their homes, Steinberg said. She served as the nonprofit’s president between 2009 and 2010.

In November 2012, Kane was the first woman and the first Democrat elected to hold the office of state attorney general.

In 2014, Kane made a service trip to Haiti, paid all of her personal expenses associated with the visit and went on her vacation time, Steinberg said. While in Haiti, she travelled to a remote village to provide food and met with enslaved children, bringing with her shoes and hygiene products.

In October 2014, Kane was involved in a car accident in which she suffered a concussion and a back injury. She still experiences pain from the crash, Steinberg said.

While attorney general, Kane’s commitment to her children never faltered, Steinberg said, and she routinely commuted between her home in Scranton and her office in Harrisburg in order to meet her professional obligations without sacrificing time with her children. When possible, she worked out of an office in Scranton so that she could devote additional time to her sons, Steinberg said.
Kathleen Kane/File Photo from Mercury Video by Carl Hessler Jr.

In August 2015, Kane was charged with perjury, false swearing, obstructing administration of law, conspiracy and official oppression. In October 2015, Kane was charged with additional counts of perjury, false swearing and obstructing administration of law.

In August 2016, Kane opted for a jury of her peers and was convicted of the charges on Aug. 15. Kane resigned from her post as attorney general two days later, on Aug. 17.

[NOTE: Steinberg’s court filing does not address details concerning Kane’s pending divorce, begun in December 2014, from her husband, Christopher, whose family owns a trucking firm.]

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Picnic with Police" This Weekend

When Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele unveiled a community prosecution unit in Pottstown in July he said one of the goals of that unit is to improve the quality of life in the community through preventative efforts such as meeting with community members to address concerns before problems occur.
Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele

“Hopefully, there will be a deterrent effect. Ultimately, through law enforcement efforts and through partnerships with the community, these ongoing efforts will result in economic growth and vibrancy. That’s our vision of the community prosecution unit,” Steele said then.

Steele must be commended for keeping his promise to have the prosecutors who helm the unit participate in community events. Prosecutors participated in the “Stop the Drugs, Stop the Violence” event on July 23 and Pottstown’s “National Night Out” on Aug. 2.

Now comes word that prosecutors will be front and center at the “Picnic with Police” Pottstown communitywide event from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday Oct. 22 at Chestnut Street Park.

“Pottstown residents of all ages are encouraged to come out, enjoy some good food, spend time with their neighbors and meet the beat officers,” said Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood, captain of the Pottstown Community Prosecution Unit. “We’re looking forward to seeing everyone.”

Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood
The District Attorney’s Office is partnering with the NAACP Pottstown Chapter and the Pottstown Police Department to host the first annual “Picnic with Police.”

Similar to the widely acclaimed “National Night Out,” which annually brings together police with communities they serve, the new event seeks to bring together all members of the Pottstown community for a fun, family-oriented picnic to meet their local beat officers, including the new officers who have recently joined the force. There will be free grilled hot dogs, snacks and drinks as well as games, music and free giveaways.

“This is a family-oriented event to bring everyone together for casual conversations or to discuss community issues while having fun,” said Pottstown Police Chief F. Richard Drumheller.

“We are blessed in Pottstown to have such strong and vibrant organizations. And coming together to relate on an informal basis with our police officers is important on so many fronts,” said Jonathan Corson, Pottstown NAACP interim president. “It is always better to have strong lines of communications in place before there ever might be a problem to face together.”

In addition to Ringwood, the new prosecution unit includes experienced prosecutors Heather Hines and Richard H. Bradbury Jr., who have a combined 13 years of service with the district attorney’s office and will handle all criminal cases originating in Pottstown. The team has an office at the police department and are there every Wednesday and at other times as needed throughout the week. Residents are invited to share crime tips or community concerns with the team members.

The prosecutors have been meeting with community leaders and stakeholders to gather input about the problems that exist and to discuss opportunities that exist to make Pottstown a good community in which to live.
Prosecutors (l-r) Richard Bradbury Jr., Heather Hines, Brianna Ringwood/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

Realizing that no single entity can achieve such goals on its own, the prosecutors are looking for collaborations and suggestions from community stakeholders.

“The only way that we are successful in making Pottstown better, and achieving that vision that I’ve heard echoed throughout all my meetings with various people in the community, is by working together. That’s why it’s so important to meet with people and hear their perspective,” Ringwood told me earlier this year.

Here’s hoping that borough residents and community leaders come out this weekend for a day of fun, meaningful discussions and collaboration. 

Kudos to the district attorney’s office, Pottstown police and NAACP leaders for keeping the discussion going, promoting goodwill and helping Pottstown thrive.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Human Trafficking Conviction and a Victim's Inspirational Message

Last week, Montgomery County prosecutors won their FIRST conviction under a relatively new law that targets HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

Brian Jonathan Kieffer, 33, of Lansdale, was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in minors, promoting prostitution of a minor and corruption of a minor in connection with incidents that occurred in Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia counties with a 16-year-old girl between August and October 2015. With an additional eight years of probation, the sentence, imposed by Judge Gail A. Weilheimer, means Kieffer will be under court supervision for 18 years.

Brian Kieffer/Photo courtesy Montco DA

Kieffer was the first to be charged, convicted and sentenced in Montgomery County under the revised state law, Act 105 of 2014, which was sponsored by state Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, an Upper Moreland Republican. The law became effective in September 2014.

The act was written to address weaknesses in the state’s previous human trafficking law which allowed offenders to be charged with lesser crimes and did not address sexual servitude, officials said.

“Certainly, we’re going to take these crimes very seriously and make sure that offenders are punished seriously,” Prosecutor Lindsay O’Brien said.

As a result of Kieffer's guilty plea his teenage victim did not have to testify at a trial.

But she had the courage to come forward to face a courtroom full of supporters and strangers and still tell her story during an emotional victim impact statement, forcing people to take a look at the harsh realities of addiction and the world of human trafficking.

The petite, soft-spoken, now 17-year-old girl, with poise and eloquence, expressed the trauma she suffered at the hands of Kieffer, who manipulated her into engaging in sex acts with men for money or drugs. She did not struggle to tell what happened to her and must be commended for her fearlessness in ripping the Band-Aid off and exposing the reality of this repugnant crime.

Some of her comments were included in the news story that followed Kieffer's conviction. But her message was so moving, so important, that it is deserving of more space and attention. The following are additional excerpts of the young woman's remarks, which the judge called “a powerful message.” 

“As of right now I am content with myself and my life. I have overcome the majority of my struggles that I have dealt with in my past. The only thing I’m still struggling with is accepting and coping with the trauma I experienced because of this monster,” the Hatfield Township girl said as she stood before the judge, Kieffer and courtroom spectators.

"Just like all of you I am a human being. I have a heart, soul, mind and a body, all of which I deeply treasure. But I have not always felt this way. I didn’t care much about myself way before my involvement with Brian. But after I met him and started being trafficked, I felt like an object, a piece of trash and a toy. I lost all self-respect and motivation to live a better life. He caused me to feel this way. I was dead inside as I was simply living to please him and my addiction,” the young girl said.

Press Release announcing Kieffer's arrest
“I was vulnerable and lonely. He noticed by vulnerabilities and took advantage of them. He got me to trust and love him, thinking he could take care of me. I was blind to what he was really doing. Within his manipulation, lies and scams I was torn up inside. I didn’t know what was real…,” she added.

The girl said she thought she loved Kieffer. Then she said she read a book, “Stolen” by Kateriina Rosenblatt, the true story of a girl who experienced sexual trafficking.

“I related to it in so many ways. I learned a lot about myself while reading this book. It opened my eyes and gave me a new outlook that consisted of the realization that Brian Kieffer groomed me into trusting him, loving him, supporting him and looking out for him. I was brainwashed by both him and my drug addiction. I was trapped in this lifestyle,” the girl said.

“Unless you have experienced it yourself, addiction is a difficult concept to understand. I believed I had no way out. If I had escaped from the relationship with Brian I would become sick. At the time, this was my worst fear,” the girl said.

The girl said she still has flashbacks that frighten her, has nightmares and is fearful of being alone with men. She said she is happy most of the time but that sometimes the memories creep up on her and haunt her. She said she’s grateful for her family’s support and wanted justice “so my parents can be more at peace.”

The girl, who now has college aspirations, acknowledged that she did not have to come to court and make a very public statement but she said she felt it necessary “for people to hear from the actual victim.”

“I want people to know that I am not just a name on a piece of paper or in a story. This could have happened to anyone. It could have been anyone’s daughter, sister, cousin or friend. God chose this battle for me. Nothing can take back what has already taken place but the future can be changed,” the girl said. “I appreciate everyone who has listened.”

Indeed "a powerful message:" "Nothing can take back what has already taken place but the future can be changed.

Her voice was heard. The teenage girl’s words resonated with the tearful spectators in the courtroom. Out of despair came strength and resolve.

Montco Judge Gail Weilheimer/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

“This does not need to define you. Think about what you’ve already overcome. You really can be unstoppable and you have to believe in yourself,” Judge Weilheimer addressed the girl with compassion.

Despite her dreadful experience, the 17-year-old found a way to leave everyone in that courtroom with a feeling of hope.

She is an inspiration to everyone facing struggles.

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Montco Gets Creative With Art on Trails

Last month, Montgomery Bar Association wrapped up its 2016 Courting Art program with a dedication ceremony at the Montgomery County Family Court conciliators building near the courthouse. The newest works of art were unveiled during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

Unlike in previous years, entries from this year’s art contest and exhibition were accepted from artists of all ages and were intended to appeal to children and families who often spend time in family court, an area frequently occupied by “families and children in distress,” said Judge Carolyn T. Carluccio.
Courting Art attendees enjoy the gallery/Photo Courtesy Montgomery Bar Association

Congratulations go out to Carluccio, who has chaired the Bar Association’s Community Outreach Committee and Courting Art program since the program’s inception four years ago. Carluccio can be proud of the program because visitors to the courthouse, especially jurors, often comment about how much they enjoy viewing the art during their time in the building.

But there’s another county art initiative, inspired by the Courting Art program, of which many people might not be aware.

Anne Leavitt-Gruberger of the Montgomery County Planning Commission was on-hand at the Courting Art celebration to speak to participating artists on behalf of Creative Montco, a new countywide arts initiative that has developed an “Art on our Trails” program.

“We’re literally putting people’s artwork on banners that are being hung along our county trail system,” Leavitt-Gruberger said, encouraging Courting Art participants to join the initiative. “We’d reproduce your artwork and put it on banners and put it along the county trail system, here on the Schuylkill River Trail.

“We have some banners right now in Pottstown and we have some hanging in Schwenksville along the Perkiomen Trail. It’s a great way to get your artwork in a venue that you wouldn’t otherwise think of as an art gallery,” Leavitt-Gruberger said. “It gets a lot of eyes. We get a million people on our trail system each year. That’s pretty significant.”

There would be no cost to artists, other than the donation of some high quality photos of their work, organizers said.

Mr. Everybody's Business thinks it’s a creative idea, trails becoming the county’s newest art gallery.

To learn more about the program, artists are encouraged to contact Leavitt-Gruberger via email at or at 610-278-3727.

You can visit the Creative Montco website here:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Courtroom Drama: Cirillo Trial begins Tuesday.

This is the week when most of those who work at the courthouse will be closely following the trial of well-known Norristown defense lawyer Vincent Cirillo Jr., who is accused of raping a female client.

Cirillo, 56, is a familiar face at the courthouse, appearing in one courtroom or another, representing clients in both the criminal and civil arena, on nearly a daily basis. Cirillo’s legal troubles are all anyone has talked about in the close-knit courthouse community for months.

The trial gets under way on Tuesday with jury selection before Judge Steven T. O’Neill. The judge has summoned about 100 jurors and the selection process will occur in Courtroom B. It will be interesting to see how many prospective jurors are familiar with the Cirillo name and defense lawyer Nino V. Tinari does have a pending request for a change of venue in the event it’s determined a fair and impartial jury can’t be selected.

The Cirillo name is well-cemented in Montgomery County’s political and judicial landscape. Cirillo is the son of the late Vincent A. Cirillo, a former Lower Merion commissioner, county prosecutor and judge who went on to be president judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court from 1986 to 1990. The elder Cirillo retired from the state bench in 1997 and died at the age of 72 in November 2000.
Vincent Cirillo Jr./Mugshot Provided by Montco DA

Cirillo, who listed addresses in Lower Merion and Narberth, faces charges of rape of an unconscious victim, rape of an impaired person, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault and making false statements to authorities in connection with allegations he sexually assaulted an impaired female client he had been representing in a civil matter on Aug. 3, 2015, at the woman’s West Norriton residence.

From the start, Cirillo vowed to fight the charges. After his arrest in August 2015 he stated to me, “My response is my side of the story has not come out yet. It will in due course and I fully intend on defending, fighting these allegations.”

Montco Judge Steven T. O'Neill will preside over trial
Everyone is left wondering, “Will he or won’t he testify at his trial?”

That trial should offer some moments of high drama. Assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan won court approval last week to show jurors cellphone photos he maintains link Cirillo to the alleged rape.

In arrest documents, detectives alleged Cirillo photographed the woman in her bed over a 25-minute period during and after the sexual assault. Investigators seized seven digital photos from Cirillo’s phone and alleged the underwear clad woman “appears to be completely unconscious,” court papers indicate.

The jury is also likely to hear a recording of an Aug. 8, 2015, intercepted conversation between the defendant and the alleged victim. Prosecutors contend the recording offers incriminating evidence against Cirillo.
Montco Prosecutor M. Stewart Ryan is prosecuting Cirillo

In another twist in the case, Cirillo was free on bail on the rape charges when he was arrested on new charges about two weeks ago after he allegedly illegally posed as the alleged rape victim’s current lawyer to attempt to obtain confidential civil court documents pertaining to her from the Montgomery County Domestic Relations Office.

Cirillo has a preliminary hearing on the new charges now scheduled for Nov. 18. The new charges will not be considered by the jury that is selected on Tuesday in connection with the rape allegations.

Mr. Everybody’s Business will follow the trial from start to finish. Watch for my daily reports in The Mercury, The Times Herald and The Reporter. And stay connected to @MontcoCourtNews on Twitter for the latest trial revelations.