Incoming Attorney General Castor gets guidance from former interim AG

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - For all the talk about how unprecedented the resignation of Kathleen Kane is, it is not the first time an attorney general in Pennsylvania has been forced to resign amid controversy.

In 1995, then-Attorney General Ernie Preate entered a guilty plea to one count of mail fraud and resigned from the position to which he was first elected in 1988, and again in 1992. A judge later sentenced him to 14 months in federal prison.

His replacement was Walter Cohen, a colleague at the attorney general's office, who now is a partner with Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel LLP in its Harrisburg office.

Cohen says he knows Castor well, and that they spoke Tuesday before Castor held his news conference.

"I think what he will find and what I found is that the office has been in turmoil," Cohen said. "It's been a difficult place to work, very few of which really had to do with the day-to-day work of the office."

Cohen said there can be a bit of a learning curve, even though the length of Castor's potential term will be relatively short.

"It's just a matter of how to really gauge your time, focus your interests and give direction to the staff all at the same time," he said. "I think he knows what he wants to do in the office and I think that he will be excellent for that period of time."

Cohen served as attorney general for about six months in 1995. He stepped aside after the Senate confirmed then-Governor Tom Ridge's appointment of Tom Corbett to the position in 1996.

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