Emails show discussions between Freeh, prosecutors were routine

Published May 28, 2014
Fina and McGettigan

The Pennsylvania Attorney General yesterday refused to release a series of e-mails between state prosecutors and investigators working for Louis J. Freeh.

Discussions about investigative reports, seized evidence, and even “timesheets” won’t be disclosed because they’re exempt from access under the Right-to-Know Law,  wrote Senior Executive Deputy Attorney General Linda Dale Hoffa, in a six-page opinion.

Hoffa revealed little about the content of the e-mails, which were recently recovered as part of Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s internal review of the Jerry Sandusky investigation. But dates and subject lines offer a glimpse into the cooperative relationship between Penn State’s investigators and  state prosecutors who worked to convict the very people his client was paying to defend.

According to Hoffa’s opinion, Freeh investigators traded e-mails about an “investigative report” less than a month after his investigation began. The exchanges could have referred to the final report of the AG’s Sandusky investigation, a document that officials were prohibited from releasing to non-law enforcement personnel.

Another exchange titled “expected future support” came the day after a key Dec. 16, 2011 preliminary hearing.

And a March 21, 2012 message titled “receipt of e-mails” may refer to a series of 2001 e-mails that Freeh said shows top officials intentionally sought to conceal Sandusky’s crimes.

The other e-mails are:

  • Re: investigative report, Nov. 30 – Dec. 6, 2011
  • Re: victimization, Jan. 5, 2012
  • Re: profile, Feb. 17, 2012
  • re: hiring practices, Feb. 17, 2012
  • Re: investigative review of evidentiary materials, March 11, 2012
  • Re: information obtained related to allegations of criminal conduct, March 21 – April 2, 2012
  • Re: timesheet, April 9, 2012
  • Re: seized investigative materials, April 11 – 13, 2012
  • Re: investigative documents, April 30 – May 1, 2012
  • Re: attorney representation, April 30, 2012

In her opinion, Hoffa cited five exemptions that allow the AG to withhold the records. But she didn’t state which rules apply to the individual records, a key disclosure that is needed for state agencies to meet their burden of proof. She also didn’t address an unknown number of other records that were also subject to the appeal.

The Attorney General is one of three state agencies that is allowed to decide its own appeals. Some say that leads to a biased decision, unlike appeals involving most state agencies, which are decided by the Office of Open Records.

Hoffa’s decision will become final unless its appealed within 30 days.

  • Carole Vail

    Sure they were…