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Kane refers LCB ethics question to Dauphin County district attorney

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 5:55 p.m.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year dismissed a case against former confidential informant, Tyron B. Ali, contending the investigation by her predecessors was legally flawed, tainted with racism, and inactive for nine months before she took office in January 2013.

HARRISBURG — With her husband having ties to a multimillion-dollar contract with the state Liquor Control Board, Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Tuesday asked the top Dauphin County prosecutor to review whether ethics violations by three ex-agency officials warrant a criminal investigation.

Three former officials violated rules by accepting golf outings, expensive wine and lavish dinners, the state Ethics Caommission said. It's a matter of course for the attorney general to review ethics opinions, officials at the agencies said.

Kane is attempting to avoid a potential conflict. It isn't unusual for district attorneys to refer cases to the attorney general when they have conflicts.

“In the usual course of business, the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission refers findings to the Office of Attorney General to determine whether criminal charges are warranted,” said Joe Peters, Kane's spokesman. “In this instance, because Attorney General Kane's husband's family company has a long-standing business relationship with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the Attorney General is referring these Ethics commission findings to the Dauphin County District Attorney's office.”

District Attorney Ed Marsico could not be reached. Though a county prosecutor, Marsico sometimes handles high-profile state cases because his office is in the capital.

The Ethics Commission could have recommended criminal charges but agreed not to do so.

Kane's husband, Chris, sits on the board of Kane Is Able, a company that has $12.4 million in warehouse and trucking contracts with the LCB. The family business was established long before her 2012 election. His connection to an LCB contractor became public during her campaign.

Under the ethics ruling:

• Former marketing director James H. Short Jr. of Susquehanna Township in Dauphin County was ordered to pay $13,582.92;

• Former chairman Patrick “P.J.” Stapleton III of Malvern in Chester County was ordered to pay $7,258.54;

• Former chief executive Joe Conti of Doylestown in Bucks County was ordered to pay $2,388.51.

Matthew Haverstick, Conti's lawyer, declined to comment.

Neither Stapleton nor Short could be reached.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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