A judge on Thursday agreed to a request from several Pennsylvania media organizations to unseal investigative records from the abandoned sting that had caught five Philadelphia Democrats taking cash from a confidential informant — and perhaps widened the scandal to an even broader group of politicos than was previously known.
At least 12 legislators, lobbyists and a former traffic court judge took cash or meals and drinks from an undercover informant who typically wore a wire, secret court documents unsealed on Thursday reveal
The document is among dozens made public by Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover at the Tribune-Review's request. The case record raises more questions about who might have been ensnared by a failed legislative sting operation involving the state's former informant, Tyron B. Ali.
Four Philadelphia Democratic legislators and an ex-traffic court judge have been publicly identified as taking cash. The document from Robert Levant, Ali's attorney, identifies seven transactions with legislators involving mostly cash, meals and beverages as “bribes,” and in one instance, baseball tickets. The events took place from 2010 through 2012.
So wait. We previously knew of five politicos who'd been caught on tape. There are at least a dozen? Who are they? What did they take? If it's just the meal or drink, well, no big deal. But cash? We're not told.
There's plenty else in the unsealed documents.
The filings offered a rare glimpse into the deep mistrust and rancor that existed between Kane's incoming administration and Ali, who had worked as an undercover operative for Kane's predecessors for nearly two years.
Ali's lawyer argued that Kane should not be making decisions about his fate. And Kane didn't think Ali should be allowed to walk away from hundreds of charges in a separate fraud case all because he had cooperated in the sting - an investigation she found to be deeply flawed to begin with.
The 58 documents, spanning nearly a thousand pages, provided some fresh information on contentious issues.
Among the revelations were that in a move to force Kane from any role in the case, Ali's lawyer, Robert J. Levant, asserted that Ali had given $8,000 in cash to a campaign operative in 2009 who later became a key aide to Kane in her 2012 run for the top prosecutor's job.
And it sounds like Ali lived the good life on the government dime:
An undercover informant in a failed legislative sting paid for cigars, booze, high-end dinners, had a “safe house” in nearby Steelton and ran up tabs at two of the capital city’s top hotels, according to a report by Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office.
Overall, the internal report Kane ordered last month found $91,056 in expenses for informant Tyron B. Ali, who recorded his conversations with four Philadelphia Democratic legislators to whom he allegedly handed cash while posing as a lobbyist. Kane declined to prosecute last year, saying the case had substantial legal flaws.
The money spent includes $22,100 in “payments to suspects,” the report said.
Much more to come.