Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kane, Subpoenas Questions Arise Sources: Ag Revoked Writs in Casino Probe

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kane, Subpoenas Questions Arise Sources: Ag Revoked Writs in Casino Probe

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane quashed key subpoenas in a move that aides said undermined an investigation of a former state gaming official with ties to Louis DeNaples, a politically connected Scranton-area millionaire, The Philadelphia Inquirer has learned.

Just months after taking office in 2013, according to people familiar with the matter, Ms. Kane revoked subpoenas already delivered to former casino owner Mr. DeNaples and William Conaboy, another political power player in northeastern Pennsylvania, Ms. Kane's home turf.

Though one of her most senior aides had approved questioning the two men, Ms. Kane told colleagues that the line prosecutor running the case was being "too aggressive" and was placing an unfair burden on Mr. DeNaples and Mr. Conaboy, a person familiar with the case said.

Five months after the subpoenas were withdrawn, public records show, Mr. DeNaples, through his business Pocono Gardens Realty, contributed $25,000 to Ms. Kane's campaign fund - a contribution she ended up returning later that year.

Through an aide, Ms. Kane declined to comment Wednesday. To do so "would be a violation of grand jury secrecy rules," her top aide, Bruce Beemer, said in a statement.

The 2013 casino investigation was one of two significant public corruption cases that Ms. Kane decided not to pursue in her first year in office. She also shut down an undercover sting operation that had caught Democratic officials in Philadelphia pocketing cash.

Philadelphia's district attorney resurrected that case and arrested six former and current officials.

In the investigation of the former gaming official, Mr. DeNaples, 74, and Mr. Conaboy, 55, were witnesses, not targets.

State prosecutors wanted to question them as they tried to make a corruption case against Donald Shiffer, 40, an assistant counsel at Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board from 2005 to 2007.

Investigators believed that Mr. Shiffer, while working for the gaming board, served as a spy for Mr. DeNaples, feeding him information about the review of his bid to win a casino license. They were considering charging him with committing perjury and violating the state's conflict-of-interest law. …

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