Kane Shut Down Sting That Snared Phila. Officials

Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy, Philly, March 17, 2014

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office ran an undercover sting operation over three years that captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four members of the city’s state House delegation, on tape accepting money, The Inquirer has learned.

Yet no one was charged with a crime.

Prosecutors began the sting in 2010 when Republican Tom Corbett was attorney general. After Democrat Kathleen G. Kane took office in 2013, she shut it down.

In a statement to The Inquirer on Friday, Kane called the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism, saying it had targeted African Americans.

Those who favored the sting believe Kane killed a solid investigation, led by experienced prosecutor Frank G. Fina, that had ensnared several public officials and had the potential to capture more. They said they were outraged at Kane’s allegation that race had played a role in the case.

Before Kane ended the investigation, sources familiar with the inquiry said, prosecutors amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape that documented at least four city Democrats taking payments in cash or money orders, and in one case a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet.

Typically, the payments made at any one time were relatively modest–ranging from $500 to $2,000–but most of those involved accepted multiple payments, people familiar with the investigation said. In some cases, the payments were offered in exchange for votes or contracts, they said.

Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments.

The investigation’s undercover operative was a little-known lobbyist, Tyron B. Ali, 40, who agreed to wear a wire and tape the officials to win favorable treatment after his arrest in a $430,000 fraud case, the newspaper has learned.

In an unusual move, the Attorney General’s Office then dropped the fraud charges secretly, under seal, last fall.


People with knowledge of the investigation said those caught on tape included former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes, who acknowledged that Ali gave her the bracelet.

Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.

Bishop denied receiving money. Brownlee said she couldn’t recall taking a payment, and Brown declined to discuss the matter.


In May 2011, Ali went to Brown’s office and handed her an envelope with $2,000, according to people who have reviewed a transcript of a tape Ali made on that day.

As Brown accepted the money, they said, she put it in her purse and said: “Yo, good looking and Ooowee. . . . Thank you twice.”

After he gave Brown the money, Ali urged her to vote against a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls, the sources said.

Brown voted against the measure–as did every other Democrat in the House.


Waters, for his part, said he did not recall receiving any money from Ali, but later added: “I’m trying to remember if he gave me something for my birthday.”

In April 2011, to mark Waters’ 61st birthday, Ali gave him $1,000, and the transaction was recorded on tape, according to people who read a transcript of the conversation.

As Ali handed Waters an envelope, the sources said, Ali told him: “Hey, there’s $1,000 in there, bro.”

According to the sources, Waters replied: “My man, happy birthday to Ron Waters.”

Tynes, in interviews with The Inquirer, confirmed that Ali gave her the bracelet. She initially said she had mailed it back to him, but later said she had kept it, lost track of it, and recently discovered it in her safe deposit box at a local bank.

Those who sources say pocketed the cash failed to report it, as required by law, on annual financial disclosure forms for public officials, records show. Under state law, those omissions may be considered false swearing to authorities, a crime with a penalty of up to one year in jail.

Kane declined to be interviewed about her handling of the case and instead issued a statement attributed to her office.

In the statement, Kane provided only one quote, dismissing those who questioned her decisions as “nothing more than the Good Ol’ Boys club playing political games to discredit me in order to fulfill their own selfish and improper agenda.”

The statement cited Kane’s pursuit of political-corruption cases, including the pay-to-play scandal involving Democrats tied to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the corruption charges brought last week against Democratic State Sen. LeAnna Washington.

After Kane took office, her top staff conducted a review of the sting operation, in partnership with FBI agents. In the end, she chose not to pursue it.

In addition to asking federal officials to assess the case, her office asked the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office in Harrisburg to review it as well.

In an interview, District Attorney Ed Marsico, a Republican, said his staff had reviewed a summary of the investigation prepared by Kane’s staff and determined the case “almost unprosecutable.”

He said he did not read the full case file or listen to the tapes or read the transcripts. Nor did his office talk to Ali, who Marsico said had refused to meet with his staff.


In explaining the decision to close the sting investigation without filing charges, Kane said one reason was that prosecutors in the case had issued orders to target “only members of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus” and to ignore “potentially illegal acts by white members of the General Assembly.”

Fina, the lead prosecutor, declined to discuss the case. People who have spoken to him about the investigation said he vehemently denies that race was a factor.


Fina’s supporters noted that Claude Thomas, the lead agent on the Ali case, is African American and that Ali also is a person of color.


In the statement, Kane’s office quoted the lead agent in the case (Thomas) as saying he had been told to target members of the Legislative Black Caucus.

People close to Thomas said no one ever gave him such an order and he never said such a thing to Kane’s staff. Had anyone made such a suggestion, Thomas would have rejected it, they said.

The Inquirer pieced together the story of the aborted investigation from interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with different aspects of the inquiry–and with widely differing opinions of it.


Sources with knowledge of the sting said Ali approached a wide range of officials, from both parties, black and white. In time, the sources said, Ali didn’t even have to reach out to elected officials. They called him.

Things were going so well that, in the summer of 2012, prosecutors considered setting Ali up in a fancy lobbying office near the Capitol. The plan was to rig the Harrisburg office with hidden cameras and expand the hunt–a move that supporters of the sting say would likely have produced a larger and more diverse pool of willing elected officials.


But after Kane took office in January of last year, she began to take a critical look at the case.

By then, as Kane pointed out in her statement, the case had been dormant since early the year before. Prosecutors were using those months to lobby for an expansion of the probe, sources close to Fina said.

Once Kane took over, Fina, along with other prosecutors and investigators on his public-corruption team, had left the Attorney General’s Office. Despite Fina’s run of convictions, Kane did not ask him to stay on.


Along with the corruption probes, Fina had led another high-stakes criminal inquiry: the investigation of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach. Two years ago, in a case that drew national attention, Sandusky was convicted of multiple charges of child sexual abuse.

Kane, during her 2012 campaign, had run hard on the theme that prosecutors had moved too slowly on the Sandusky case. After her win, she fulfilled a pledge by hiring a former Philadelphia federal prosecutor to, in effect, investigate Fina’s investigation.


Within hours of Kane’s inaugural, technicians on her staff went into Fina’s office–after hours–and removed the hard drive from his computer, according to sources. Fina was in his last week on the job when the removal took place. Kane’s aides apparently were looking for information related to Fina’s work on the Sandusky case.

If nothing else, the clandestine hard-drive seizure demonstrated just how poisonous the relationship had become between the incoming Kane administration and Fina’s team.


And there was this: Fina, before he left the Attorney General’s Office, copied the sting’s case file and gave it to federal prosecutors in Philadelphia.

They did not pick up the case. It’s not clear if federal prosecutors shared Kane’s concerns, were reluctant to adopt an investigation begun by others, or simply didn’t want to be seen as taking sides in a dispute roiling a companion law enforcement agency.


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  • [Guest]

    As the fundamental transformation of the U.S. into a “people of color” nation continues, these sorts of things will no longer be news.

  • dd121

    “the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism, saying it had targeted African Americans.” Under darkie management this is our new standard of ethics in government.

    • Integration Anxiety

      Fina’s supporters noted that Claude Thomas, the lead agent on the Ali case, is African American and that Ali also is a person of color. See those individuals are what the mainstream blacks would call “Uncle Toms”, you know, people following the law, or in the case of Ali, being told to help out in the investigation or risk going to the pokey himself. He would be a snitch. And in da hüt, snitches lay in ditches. That is one of the greatest snow jobs of the last 50+ years. Civil rights was never about equality. It was about “separate & special”. Not this liberal bumper sticker slogan “everyone is equal” nonsense. And a good number of blacks only want separation insofar as reparations. No other group should get anything. That’s the mentality we are up against.

  • LHathaway

    The only shocking item in this news story is that there are republican representatives anywhere near philadelphia. . . Clearly this investigation is one case where ‘demographics’ favor whites or whiteness. That can’t be allowed, of course and we must get back to business in Black Run American. Hopefully a few posts following mine will explain just what getting back to business in Black Run America means. . .

  • WR_the_realist

    Prosecutors began the sting in 2010 when Republican Tom Corbett was
    attorney general. After Democrat Kathleen G. Kane took office in 2013,
    she shut it down.

    John Engelman, please remind us again why Democrats are better than Republicans.

    • jambi19

      Engelman always seems to favor Democrats over Republicans because somewhere at any sometime there is an evil white man sitting at a desk wearing a tie making money. He agrees with the Democrats that evil white men with means running corporations must be destroyed. Notice how Engelman has been quite all of the sudden about his usual “GOP Chamber of Commerce wants amnesty”. Hopefully he finally notices the only resistance to amnesty is from GOP.

    • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

      Mr. Engleman must be absolutely thrilled with how thoroughly he dominates the conversation on this site, even on threads on which he doesn’t post anything.

      • SoulInvictus

        lol, My thought exactly.

        I just downvote him and walk away, even if his post is kittens are cute. I know what his beliefs are. I know the mindset he represents. I know that he’d sharpen the knife (not having the nads to do it himself) for any asian or tribe to cut your throat if it meant a meal for himself in hard times.
        So, further conversation with the little toad isn’t something that interests me.

  • Only white societies are capable of producing a relatively corruption-free version of civlization. Where I’m at, if anyone in law enforcement would act, the Mexican crooked public employees would tumble like pins in a bowling tournament. Since I’m angry, I’m going to soon be offering $100,000 in cash reward money out of my own pocket to take down the scumbag greasers who targeted me. This is one vengeful white man. One of my targets beat up a white kid in school and so he thinks all whites are weak. He’s going to learn different.

  • Extropico

    “If I don’t look after the interests of the underprivileged, maybe somebody else will, maybe somebody without any money or property…and that would be too bad!”

    Citizen Kane

  • themadplumber

    I think it is beyond time to hold people in power accountable if not more so due to where they are supose to be,
    I really freaking hate saying such things like this,,,, China may have us beat in stoping corruption in there government. ouch….that hurt…..granted China has some big issues in there form of government, who they bust for corruption is hard to say if they were corrupt or just some one who was attempting to uncover coruption him self or he rock there political boat, but at least for the public they display him make and example of him and famliy to runin,,,,,somthing in many ways i wish Washington would do to clean house. Washington lost its integerty decades ago. Nixon may have ben the last with integerity, yes he was a crook but he resigned and this showed integerity and respect for contry an dgovenment

  • sbuffalonative

    I tuned in local black talk radio the other day and blacks were complaining that only black politicians seemed to be ‘targeted’ and caught by corruption investigations. They insisted that it couldn’t be just blacks who were corrupt.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell whether Democrats are covering for blacks or whether Democrats honestly believe the blacks are the victims of racism.  After all, most of the Democrats currently in office have been reared on the idea that ‘whitey is out to get the black man’ since the day they were born.

  • JohnEngelman

    The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office ran an undercover sting operation over three years that captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four members of the city’s state House delegation, on tape accepting money, The Inquirer has learned.

    Yet no one was charged with a crime.

    – Angela Couloumbis and Craig R. McCoy, Philly, March 17, 2014


    That is because they exceeded the quota for black criminals.

    • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

      In Harrisburg, that quota can be reached & breached in any one afternoon at the corner of Sixth and Division alone.

    • dd121

      John, you understand this yet still vote for democrats?

      • JohnEngelman

        I vote against the Republicans more than I vote Democrat. The Republican Party exists to advance the economic interests of the richest 10 percent of the country. In a stagnant economy that can only be achieved at the expense of nearly everyone else.

        • IstvanIN

          I am running out of candidates to vote against.

          • JohnEngelman

            Don’t vote for me. I would never win. I would not promise to make life better for everyone. I would explain how I perceive of the problems. I would explain how I intended to deal with the problems. I would admit that I might fail. I would say that those who are opposed to what I intend to do should vote for my opponent.

            In order to be elected politicians need to make unrealistic promises. Once elected they break their promises, because they were impossible to begin with.

          • IstvanIN

            Oh, I don’t think I would vote for you my friend, of that you may be sure.

          • You could vote for me.

          • JohnEngelman

            I guess. You married an Oriental woman and do not seem to hate Jews.

          • LACountyRedneck

            If you were Asian or Jewish he would.

        • dd121

          You’ve been listening to too much of the anti-capitalist propaganda. I don’t hate rich people and I believe their creativity and wealth is ultimately shared by all. I assume you’re not living in a yurt?

          • JohnEngelman

            Rich people do not love you. They benefit from policies that harm you, and visa versa.

          • The rich want to redecorate their living rooms, while we scrape up enough money and try to decide whether to fix one of the cars or get a dental crown. It has always been like this, though. We have three – up from four – vehicles that don’t run and I need two crowns. My mother gave me some glasses that work, so I’m OK. I did some defense consulting work recently that will get us paid, so we’ll be alright.

          • Screamin_Ruffed_Grouse

            Lots of people benefit from policies that harm me. Most of those people are not rich (certainly not in the bracket which you reference). I see no reason to hold the corporate fat cat who lobbies for legislation that hinders upstart competition in his industry in any greater contempt than the ghetto welfare slut who fills her shopping cart with expensive brand name junk food paid for with money taken from all of our hard-earned paychecks. My opinion of each of these is rather low.

          • JohnEngelman

            One policy that benefits rich people at our expense, and one that is complained about on American Renaissance a lot is fewer restrictions on immigration.

            More immigrants mean more consumers and more job applicants. By the law of supply and demand, this means higher prices, lower wages, and higher profits.

            Another policy is tax cuts for the rich. For the rest of us this means higher taxes, cuts in programs that benefit us, and/or more national debt.

            I do not care much for ghetto welfare sluts. Nevertheless, the welfare budget is only a few percentage digits.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    I once mentioned on a politically neutral forum that black politicians seemed to have the highest rate of corruption. The amount of denial and defensiveness was through the roof.

    • LHathaway

      Like the white doctor or politician or policeman who ‘gets their comeuppance’, these stories about crooked black politicians are likely about making white victims of diversity ‘feel better’, or perhaps so run of the mill african americans can feel better and less guilty about their own bad thoughts they harbor?

      I grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, where one of the states prisons is located. When I was a child, news of crooked policemen getting caught doing this or that wrong was constantly in the news. When I moved back there, for a relatively short period a few years ago, these same exact kind of stories were in the news! Perhaps they make the inmates feel better? Who knows? But in my opinion it was too much of a coincidence to be nothing but a coincidence.

  • JackKrak

    Note that you can’t comment on the article – the result of a long, in-depth investigation of obvious relevance to lives of any number of people in Philadelphia and elsewhere – but you can comment on the story about what the Eagles are doing in free agency.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Everything is racist when it comes to blacks. The term “racist” is just another intellectually vacuous label used by blacks and other ignorant louts to silence debate and shut down the opposition. The truer and more accurate the observations of black inferiority, the louder the cries of “racist” and “bigot”.

    • LHathaway

      Anarcho-tyranny. The worse is the behavior of a person of color, the more the authorities must crack down, on whites.

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      “Racist” is a word that had to be invented if it didn’t already exist. Without it, our multi-cultural world could not have come to pass. It’s code for “You’d better shut up — if you know what’s good for you.” And as Frank Borzereilli and others have found out, it has the teeth to back up the threat.

      • Fortunately, we have our own teeth. And more and more of us have nothing left to lose by fighting back.

    • The Verdict of History

      Are you losing the debate? Shout racist as LOUD as possible and you’ll have won.

  • Rick Parish

    I live in Western PA and there has been little coverage of this fiasco which involved 4 black members of our State Legislature, this is not just a local Philly thing, it affects all Pennsylvanians. Many white members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature and Senate have gone down in the last decade, but few if any blacks. Kane will run for Gov and use this as a feather in her stinky white hat. She also will not enforce our state laws that she disagrees with, sound like someone in DC?

  • jambi19

    Do you talk to John Engelmann on these threads? Do you know what you are talking about? Did my hyperbole go over your head? Or do you agree with John Engelman?

  • italian guy

    The whole concept of racism is a giant fraud. It’s simply designed to shut down every defence about white people identity and to take away basic freedoms, such as the freedom of association… not only that, it’s such a vague concept it can be attached to anything, from politics to everyday life, for example: you don’t date non-whites? that’s racist (as if you should be forced to have sex with someone you dislike); you are against immigration? that’s racist (some people think resources are limitless); police officers arrest crocked politicians? if they are all black that’s racist etc.

  • Bribing blacks is as easy as pie.
    In their heart of hearts, blacks embrace gibs graft from wherever it can be got.

    I like free stuff too, but it’s not the reason I get out of bed everyday.

    • IstvanIN

      And not terribly good ones, either. $1000? really? You can’t get a set of rims with that!

      • itdoesnotmatter

        Dang. One large would not even cover Michael’s crowns or fix his cars.

  • Slayer88

    They meant to say Holder’s FBI ordered her to shut it down.

  • wildfirexx

    I guess an investigation targeting corrupt officials is only reserved for white folks in this fair country, not wanting to offend our black brothers of a white-collar crime they may commit.
    I guess this is another token of White privilege they often refer to.



  • The short version is that elected black crooks should be allowed to get away with it. RIP America!

  • itdoesnotmatter

    This cease and desist investigation order came from on high. Count on it.

  • crockadoodle6

    Since the first contact between blacks and whites it has been crystal clear blacks and whites are ‘different’. The last 50 years of world-class, unprecedented social engineering has proven blacks (and blacks alone) are fundamentally incapable of embracing civilized standards. So now we see a the next phase in the organized scheme of destruction . Just change the definitions. Now ‘corruption’ no longer implies a ‘gift for a result’ influence. Civility no longer implies a profanity-free conversation. Just change the type of questions and scoring on the SATs, etc. Remember when the black women were complaining about the proper spelling of English after their kids were eliminated from the spelling B. Just expect the spelling changes to assist the blacks. Phase two will continue the destruction of civilization as we know it. What is phase three? We are already being to forced to associate with and live by characters we thing are dangerous. The press ignores or covers up anything non pc. We are paying for revisionist history and science is not allowed to publish facts that don’t fit the narrative. Where is the reset button?

  • Tom_in_Miami

    What good does it do to learn about what I already know. I’m so sick of blacks and the double standards my head begins to hurt every time I hear of another outrage by our privileged class.

  • The photo ID to vote issue plays into this scandal:

    townhall (dot) com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/03/19/democrats-in-pennsylvania-accepted-bribes-to-oppose-voter-identifation-laws-n1811436

    Dummo-Crats keep saying we don’t need photo ID to vote because there’s no voter fraud. Yet they’re willing to pass around a whole lot of money to keep from happening something which they say we don’t need to prevent a problem they say doesn’t exist.

  • kikz

    might as well be dallas…

  • [Guest]

    What exactly does it mean to give blacks “what they ask for”? and just who is going to accomplish that? Do tell.

    White people have abdicated. We’ve become weak, irresponsible, and even delusional and suicidal. That we’ve handed “people of color” anything and everything they want for decades on end is proof of that.

    Chest-pounding posts on forums such as American Renaissance change nothing.

  • Easyrhino1

    These people hate us and for them its all about payback and they feel completely justified taking everything from you

  • leftists are delusional

    I’m not sure that black politicians are that much more corrupt than white politicians. Probably somewhat more than whites, but I theorize that it is the low IQ that explains much of the disproportionate number of black politicians caught in these cases.