HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s new attorney general spent his second day the job Thursday firing two top aides to his predecessor Kathleen Kane, including a former police chief convicted of contempt for snooping through emails about a grand jury investigation.
A spokesman said Attorney General Bruce Beemer sent termination letters to Jonathan Duecker, who made $140,000 as Kane’s chief of staff, and senior supervisory special agent Patrick Reese, who earned $100,000 and often served as Kane’s driver.
Beemer spokesman Jeff Johnson said confidentiality rules concerning personnel matters precluded the agency from saying why they were fired.
Beemer was confirmed by the state Senate and took the oath of office Tuesday, nearly two weeks after Kane resigned following her conviction in a suburban Philadelphia court on charges that include perjury.
Phone messages left at home listings for Duecker and Reese, and for Reese’ defense attorney, were not immediately returned. Reese, who was sentenced to 3 to 6 months in jail, has been free while appealing his misdemeanor conviction.
Reese was once police chief in Dunmore, near Kane’s home in Scranton.
A county detective testified in December that Reese had special access to an office server, and searched for emails between a prosecutor running the grand jury and people who worked under Kane.
Reese’s lawyer argued he was unaware of a protective order at the time he accessed the computer data.
Agency policy dictates that anyone convicted of a crime related to their job must be fired as soon as it’s practicable.
Asked why Reese had not been fired before, Johnson said final decisions about discipline are made by the attorney general.
Kane, the first Democrat and first woman elected as attorney general, had been under investigation for leaking secret grand jury material to a Philadelphia newspaper to embarrass a rival and lying about it.
She was convicted by a jury Aug. 15 of felony perjury and misdemeanor charges that include conspiracy, official oppression and false swearing. She awaits sentencing.
Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office said it would pay $150,000 for lost wages and legal fees to settle a former employee’s lawsuit claiming he was terminated for recommending Duecker be fired because of sexual harassment complaints.
That lawsuit by former human resources analyst George Moore said a deputy attorney general accused Duecker of touching her three times at a bar, and a drug agent claimed he made advances toward her at a party.
Duecker was promoted by Kane from narcotics supervisor to be her top-ranking administrator in April 2015, after Moore’s recommendation.
Reese and Duecker both joined the attorney general’s office in early 2013, as Kane’s term began.