Tue. 7:14 p.m.: Pa. attorney general’s aide pleads not guilty to email snooping

NORRISTOWN, Pa. – A former small-town police chief who became one of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s closest confidants pleaded not guilty today to a charge he snooped on emails to help her keep tabs on a grand jury investigation that has threatened to end her career.

Patrick Reese, 47, had no comment as he left a suburban Philadelphia courtroom surrounded by cameras and reporters after his arraignment on a contempt charge. He was released on $5,000 unsecured bond pending a Sept. 9 trial before the judge whose protective order he allegedly violated.

The former Dunmore police chief is accused of accessing emails in an attorney general’s office archival system to keep Kane informed about the grand jury investigation that resulted in criminal charges against her last week. Judge William Carpenter had ordered Kane and her staff to stay out of the case.

“He did searches and queries that related to the case and to the protective order,” Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said after the arraignment.

Reese, a supervisory special agent in charge of Kane’s security detail and her chief driver, was one of a small number of aides who had access to the email system, prosecutors said.

Employees in the office referred to Reese as the “chief of staff” and saw him as a “go-between” when trying to deal with Kane, according to court papers.

He faces up to six months in jail if convicted.

Under state ethics rules, state workers charged with criminal conduct related to their employment face a mandatory suspension without pay. If an employee is convicted, he or she is terminated.