Abandoned Sting Case One Giant Grudge Match Between Kathleen Kane and Frank Fina?

The Inquirer breaks down the bad blood.

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

Things have gone from bad to ugly in the bizarre microcosm that is the abandoned sting. Kathleen Kane’s epic “double-dog-dare” to Seth Williams (in which she challenged the Philly D.A. to prosecute the case himself) has fizzled after reports late last week that Kane had yet to turn over the case files — and is apparently asking for guarantees that her handling of case not be subject to scrutiny. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Williams isn’t having it:

“You state you will grant me access only if I am able to satisfy you that I will not engage in any evaluation of your actions in reviewing this investigation. You have no authority under the law to establish any such pre-condition,” Williams wrote in a letter to Kane, a copy of which the Tribune-Review obtained.

It’s an exchange that prompted this unflattering-for-Kane political cartoon from the Patriot News.

And this Sunday, the Inquirer painted a portrait of the whole sting affair as a pissing match between Kane and Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor for the sting and for the high-profile Jerry Sandusky case; Fina was on his way out the door as Kane was walking through it in January 2013. Kane — who’d specialized in child abuse cases as a Lackawanna County ADA —  had made Fina’s handling of the Sandusky case a campaign issue, and  has been in the process of reinvestigating it:

Kane, [Fina’s supporters] assert, has demeaned Fina at every turn. No sooner had she taken office, they say, than Kane ordered Fina’s computer hard drive secretly removed in a bid to gather evidence on how he conducted the Sandusky case.

Kane suggests that all the furor over the sting could be a preemptive strike in anticipation of the Sandusky report:

Still, in speaking with reporters, Kane has suggested Fina fueled a furor over the sting investigation to damage her credibility and blunt the impact of the coming Sandusky report.

“The criticism against me is not only unfair, but it’s suspect,” Kane said. “I will tell you it is the same prosecutor — it bothers me, and I hope there’s not a link — that we are investigating as part of the Sandusky investigation.”

Then of course there was Fina’s shipping the case off to the feds — citing a conflict — before Kane could even review it.

The flap, notes the Tribune-Review,  has the potential to seriously slow Kane’s heretofore meteoric political ascent. But ain’t it nice to know that no matter how rough things get, you can always count on the hometown paper — in this case the Scranton Times-Tribune — to chip in with a puff piece about you and your grandma (complete with your senior prom picture).