WILKES-BARRE — A one-time district judge candidate pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he falsified nomination petition signatures for a city magisterial post held for three decades by his father.
Jared Martin Kane, 34, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count each of forgery, false swearing, false signatures on a nomination petition and fraudulent filing of a nomination petition. He was sentenced immediately to 18 months probation and 50 hours of community service.
Kane entered the plea at the county’s Penn Place Building in a hearing presided over by retired Monroe County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jerome P. Cheslock. The former judge was brought in to preside over the proceeding due a conflict of interest regarding the Kane family’s ties to the area, First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said outside the courtroom.
Kane’s father, Martin Kane, retired in January after serving as magisterial district judge in Wilkes-Barre since 1986. The longtime judge’s wife, Kathy, is a former city councilwoman and controller who once headed the Luzerne County Democratic Party.
Al Flora Jr., Kane’s attorney, said Kane’s parents had “a very difficult time” with the charges.
“They surely did not raise their son to engage in illegal conduct,” he said.
Flora said he believed the sentence was fair and that his client’s missteps were “an anomaly.”
“This was not a sophisticated scheme,” Flora said. “Anybody looking at the nominating petition would realize that there was a problem just by looking at the signatures. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist.”
Allegations Kane forged signatures on his Republican nomination petition surfaced in the days leading up to last year’s May primary election, where the candidate appeared poised to succeed his father. Kane, who cross-filed to appear on both party ballots, ultimately lost the election to Tom Malloy in a landslide decision.
Over 100 of Kane’s supporters allegedly signed the notarized document, including a man who reportedly moved to another country months before etching his signature, and another listing the home address of a condemned, roach-infested home that was the scene of a 2013 homicide.
Citing “infestation,” city officials in 2013 posted the property as unfit for human habitation after Vaughn Kemp, 24, was fatally shot outside the double-block home.
Flora said Kane made “a bad mistake,” but accepted responsibility from the onset of the investigation.
“The kid just realized he let his family down, he let the judiciary down, and he let the public down,” he said. “That’s a hard thing to live with.”
In a statement to the court, Kane apologized to his friends and family and those who supported his campaign.
Following the hearing, Sanguedolce said he was pleased with the outcome of the investigation.
“We’re happy to have it completed finally. From our standpoint, the case is over,” he said, adding that Kane “cooperated fully” with investigators.
City Wide Towing owner Bob Kadluboski forwarded concerns surrounding the 107-name petition to Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis in mid-May, pressing the DA to file criminal charges against the candidate as the deadline to challenge nomination petitions had passed two months before.
Charges were ultimately filed in November. Kane elected to waive his right to a preliminary hearing and formal arraignment, sending the charges to county court.
Kadluboski on Wednesday lauded the efforts of the county district attorney’s office and state police in landing Kane’s plea, but said he still questioned who signed the forged signatures on the petition.
“From what I understand, he didn’t do it himself,” Kadluboski said. “There’s other people involved.”
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL
Marty Kane is a long time drunk who in embarrassment. Kathy Jane was as crooked as they come. She took an upscale trip with Bill Barrett to Austin, Texas and didn't tell anyone and charged taxpayers. Welcome to the W-B cesspool.