Documents unsealed in political corruption case
In newly unsealed documents, the confidential informant used in a sting operation by the Pa. Attorney General’s Office says he bribed eight state representatives and gave gifts to additional lawmakers as well as lobbyists.
Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover unsealed documents in the case of Tyron Ali Thursday afternoon. (Click here to view)
Ali was the confidential informant the state used in the investigation. In 2009, he faced more than 2,000 criminal charges in a fraud case. In exchange for his cooperation, all the charges were dropped. But, until Thursday, the case file has been under seal.
The corruption investigation took place before current Attorney Gen. Kathleen Kane (D) took office. However, she declined to prosecute it, citing a variety of issues with how it was handled.
On Thursday, she criticized the deal with Tyron as the “deal of the century” and said the newly unsealed documents support her decision not to prosecute.
“The case was half-assed, quite honestly. The investigation was half-assed. It was poorly run,” said Kane.
In a document dated Sept. 12, 2013, Ali’s attorney Robert Levant writes, “As an agent of the (Office of the Attorney General), Mr. Ali paid cash bribes to eight Pennsylvania state representatives…”
When the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story in March, the newspaper identified four of those politicians as Democratic state Reps. Ron Waters, Louise Bishop, Vanessa Lowery Brown and Michelle Brownlee. All either denied wrongdoing or ever taking money from Ali.
Ali also claims he gave gifts to another three state representatives, three lobbyists and a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge. He also says he hosted a dinner with five state representatives “with whom he was to get acquainted at the direction of the (Office of Attorney General).”
Bruce Beemer, who reviewed the case for Kane, said of Ali’s claims, “I have a strong disagreement with those assertions.” Beemer cited evidence he reviewed, including recorded conversations with the targets of the investigation. That evidence has not been made public.
Beemer said after looking at the evidence he “concluded that this was not a case that could be brought by the Office of Attorney General at the time that I was reviewing it.”
In the September court filing, Levant also writes,” Ms. Kane has a personal relationship with at least two persons who Ali…has implicated in public wrongdoing.”
Kane denied there was a conflict of interest, saying the two people are acquaintances, and that the statute of limitations had run out on prosecuting any crimes the two were alleged to have committed. Further, she said there was no recorded evidence supporting Ali’s claims.
Kane reiterated Thursday her concern about the role race played in the investigation. She said the majority of targets were African-American.
“We looked at the fact that they were only targeting certain members, in this case the Black Caucus, and that there was no predication for those acts,” said Kane.
Kane cited an interview with Claude Thomas, the lead investigator on the case, in which he said he was instructed to target members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus.
Thomas, who is African-American, denied that in an interview this week with FOX29 in Philadelphia.
“No one would again, ever suggest, ask for or order me to target members of my own race or any race. It just would not happen,” said Thomas.
FOX43 has requested a transcript from the Attorney General’s Office of the interview with Thomas to try to verify the claims.