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Reform Advocates Request Attorney General Investigation of Parks Miller, Castor, Kane

by on January 18, 2017 9:17 AM

Just taking office on Tuesday, new Pennsylvania Attorney General received a request to investigate former AG Kathleen Kane and her office's relationship with the Centre County District Attorney.

Members of two government watchdog groups submitted a letter to Shapiro calling for an investigation of Stacy Parks Miller, her attorney and former Solicitor General Bruce Castor, and Kane, who resigned after being convicted of perjury and criminal conspiracy related to leaking grand jury documents.

Gene Stilp of Taxpayers and Ratepayers United and Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital made the request.

"While many questionable aspects of Kane's tenure can be mentioned, one bizarre, complicated and questionable period has to be investigated as a full faith effort to review and correct the Kane era," they wrote. "The connections and interactions of Kathleen Kane, Stacy Parks Miller and Bruce Castor need to be examined."

In January 2015, State College attorneys Bernard Cantorna and Philip Masorti brought to the Centre County Board of Commissioners an accusation from former DA's office paralegal Michelle Shutt that Parks Miller had forged the signature of Judge Pamela Ruest on a fake bail order as part of a jailhouse sting in the investigation of death threats against an assistant district attorney.

Parks Miller brought in Castor as her personal attorney and later appointed him as special assistant district attorney for cases where the defense sought to have Parks Miller disqualified. The Office of the Attorney General under Kane, meanwhile, investigated the forgery accusation and in July 2015 a grand jury said no criminal charges against Parks Miller were warranted, determining that the signature belonged to Ruest, who had testified that she could not remember if she had signed it.

Kane was charged with leaking secret grand jury information from an unrelated case the following month.

Castor represented Parks Miller in a civil lawsuit against Centre County, county officials, Ruest, several attorneys and Shutt. A federal judge dismissed that suit in August 2016, but Parks Miller is appealing.

In March 2016, while Kane was awaiting trial and suspended from practicing law, she appointed Castor as solicitor general and later first deputy attorney general. After Kane was convicted and resigned in August, Castor briefly served as acting attorney general until Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Bruce Beemer in an interim capacity.

"All aspects of the interactions of these three individuals in their official roles have to be investigated because the former attorney general and now convicted felon Kathleen Kane made a decision not to prosecute Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller," Stilp and Epstein wrote. "Now with a newly elected attorney general this task has to be front and center to make sure Kathleen Kane's actions did not abuse the administration of justice in the Stacy Parks Miller case.

They called for a review of all documents and questioning of current and former OAG employees who had a role in investigating Parks Miller. They also seek to examine any conflicts of interest Castor may have had in his simultaneous roles as a private attorney and employee of the commonwealth.

Castor and Parks Miller both described the request for an investigation as politically-motivated.

"All sorts of insane statements are made in election years," Castor said in an email. "After all, isn't DA Parks Miller's election opponent the very person who falsely accused her? He'll have to do better than that. Grand jurors, regular citizens, decided the case. Anyway, zero connection existed, so who cares?"

Cantorna, one of the two attorneys who brought the forgery accusation to county commissioners in 2015, announced in November that he will oppose Parks Miller in this year's election.

"This is an election year farce," Parks Miller said in an email. "There is no chance AG Shapiro will re-investigate me because I am innocent and there was no relationship. If anything he may want to investigate those that falsely accused me and continue to do so for politics but I prefer he concentrate on pressing matters such as our heroin crisis. I'm not sure how it is news simply because they wrote their self-imagined conspiracy theory down on paper but it has gotten really stale and Centre County is sick of it."

Cantorna, who was one of the attorneys sued by Parks Miller, said he had nothing to do with the request for an investigation.

 

"It is not for me to tell the Attorney General what to investigate from the Kathleen Kane tenure," Cantorna said. "Mr. Shapiro will need time to work through those issues. I have nothing to do with these allegations. They are being made by others, including Ms. Parks Miller's former employee."

 



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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