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Sandusky report cost at least $180,000, Pa. Attorney General Kane's office determines

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Monday, June 9, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen Kane's report clearing her predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, of delaying the Jerry Sandusky investigation for political reasons cost state taxpayers at least $180,000, her office said on Monday.

That conclusion of the report, first published by the Tribune-Review on Saturday, is only one element of a 15-month review by a Widener University Law School professor that Kane hired.

Geoff Moulton, a former federal prosecutor, worked 1,803 hours on the Sandusky report at $74 an hour, Kane's office said. He was paid benefits of $34,661 and reimbursed $12,477 for travel costs.

“I have to give her credit for handling such a sensitive issue in a professional and fair manner,” said Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver County. “I think it's reasonable for her to put resources into protecting the integrity of the Attorney General's Office.”

But, said Jay Meashey, 33, of State College, who attended Penn State until 2003: “I think $180,000 is a lot of money, and it could pay for a lot of things in the Attorney General's Office. She probably could have done it cheaper. But I know it was something she campaigned on, and it was a reason a lot of people voted for her.”

Kane is expected to publicly release the report by June 30, once Cambria County Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III reviews the responses of those named in it.

The governor's office declined to comment.

Reconstructing millions of deleted office emails delayed the report. Kane's spokesman J.J. Abbott said the email recovery was done in-house, and because that Information Technology employee pursued other tasks, it's not possible to calculate time spent on the recovery.

The investigation required no equipment or software purchases, he said.

“Most of the time necessary to recover the material was simply a computer running a process with no manpower required,” Abbott said. He said Kane “made every effort to keep costs at a minimum.”

Kane, the first Democrat elected attorney general, promised voters during her 2012 campaign that she would investigate whether Corbett, a Republican, delayed the Sandusky case to get past the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Corbett was governor in November 2011 when Sandusky, 70, a former assistant Penn State football coach, was arrested and subsequently convicted of sexually assaulting boys. Sandusky's arrest and the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno sparked upheaval on the State College campus.

Although some sources who have read the report portray its content as “complete vindication” for Corbett and his team, others suggest serious questions remain about case delays.

Mark Dwyer, a 2004 Penn State graduate, said it's “a little premature to go into the costs and the pros and cons of it.”

Dwyer, 32, a school aide in the State College School District, thinks it's too soon to say that Corbett has been “completely cleared.” Being “politically cleared” is one thing, but Corbett accepted campaign money from board members of the Second Mile, the nonprofit charity where Sandusky groomed his victims.

“He's investigating a guy whose charity is giving him money for his election,” Dwyer said. “I want to see the full report.”

Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery County, said he had no doubts that politics didn't factor into the Sandusky investigation.

“If you knew all of these (prosecutors), you knew that,” Vereb said. “If spending that kind of money is what it took to get public trust, to say no one was playing politics, then maybe that's a good expenditure.”

The report likely is not a “game-changer” for Kane or Corbett, who is running for re-election in November, said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.

“If the report does indeed absolve Corbett of playing politics but provides evidence of some mistakes and inefficiencies in the investigation, I think it will have negligible (political) effects on both Corbett and Kane,” Borick said. “In many ways, opinions on the entire Sandusky scandal have been established in voters' minds, and it would take some form of amazing revelations to move voters' views on this matter.”

Many people loyal to Penn State were angered not so much about Corbett's hand-ling of the investigation while attorney general “but more about a perceived heavy-handedness toward the university” when the scandal broke, Borick said.

“Many Penn Staters believe he kicked the university when it was down, rather than helped to see PSU through a very difficult time.”

Larry Backer, a law school professor at Penn State, called Kane's review “a useful exercise in an age when we don't seem to have a lot of public trust in government.”

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

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