Thursday, June 6, 2019

Frank Fina Gets Spanked!

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Frank Fina finally got his comeuppance.

In a 36-page report issued today, the Disciplinary Board of the state Supreme Court called for a suspension of the former deputy attorney general's law license for a year and a day. That recommendation now goes before the state Supreme Court.

Fina, the former lead prosecutor in the so-called Penn State sex abuse case, got blasted yesterday by the disciplinary board for his "reprehensible" and "inexcusable" conduct. Fina, the disciplinary board said, was guilty of purposely duping a grand jury judge into thinking that Fina wasn't going to press Cynthia Baldwin, Penn State's former counsel, into breaking the attorney-client privilege behind closed doors and betraying three top Penn State officials who were her former clients.

But after deliberately conning the gullible judge back in October 2012, Fina then "proceeded to question [Baldwin] extensively about the very subjects he represented to Judge [Barry] Feudale he would avoid," the disciplinary board concluded. "These actions are reprehensible" and "inexcusable," the disciplinary board wrote.

In addition, the board found that Fina's alleged defense of his behavior before the board was "without substance." What Fina did, the disciplinary board said, was to tear down all the safeguards built into the criminal justice system by turning defense attorney Baldwin "into a witness for the prosecution against her clients."

He did it by threatening Baldwin with indictment. And when confronted with his deliberate misconduct, Fina arrogantly showed no remorse.

"As a prosecutor [Fina] served as a 'minister of justice,' whose 'duty to seek justice' trumps his role as an advocate to win cases," the disciplinary board wrote in a document signed by James C. Haggerty, the board's vice-chair. The disciplinary board cited case law that said that "lawyers who commit misconduct while in a public position bring disrepute upon the bar . . . [Fina] betrayed the faith and trust of the public by engaging in misconduct in his official capacity."

Fina, according to the disciplinary board, brought "dishonor to the professions and to our democratic institutions . . . [Fina's] actions dishonor the profession and his office."

Fina's "misrepresentations to Judge Feudale as to the scope of his inquiry of Ms. Baldwin's testimony are deeply disturbing and a significant aggravating factor," the board wrote. "There are innumerable portions of [Fina's] examination of Ms. Baldwin that sought detailed attorney-client communications. [Fina's] actions can be seen as nothing but intentional and calculated."

Intentional and calculated. That certainly summed up Fina's behavior as the disciplinary board's counsel dubbed him an "overzealous prosecutor." A crusader who thought he was above the law.

The disciplinary board also took Fina to task for his smug attitude when he was brought before the board on charges that he had violated the state ethics code for lawyers. As a witness to the proceedings, I can tell you that Fina and his lawyers richly deserved the dressing down they got because they spent most of their time attacking the disciplinary board's counsel for supposedly "smearing" Fina's good name and noble work as a prosecutor.

Fina was represented before the disciplinary by former deputy attorney general Joseph "Hollywood Joe" McGettigan, Fina's fellow prosecutor during the Penn State case. Between lawyer and client, it was a double display of how to be an obnoxious and overzealous prosecutor.

In his defense of Fina, McGettigan appeared drunk with the same obnoxious arrogance, the same holier-than-thou attitude and the same set of blinders as his client.

Fina, the disciplinary board wrote, "failed to demonstrate regret or remorse for his actions. To the contrary, he attempted to persuade the committee, despite the weight of the evidence, including his own testimony that pointed otherwise . . . that [Fina] did not deceive Judge Feudale in any way."

Fina "deflected responsibility by describing himself as a 'worker bee'" in the AG's office, the disciplinary board said. "He failed to acknowledge that as a prosecutor he bore a special responsibility to ensure justice, and utterly failed to acknowledge the ramifications of his misconduct . . . The failure of [Fina] to show any remorse demands the imposition of sanctions which conveys to him the severity of his transgressions."

Fina's actions "undermine the public trust and bring shame to the profession," the disciplinary board wrote. "Through it all [Fina] fails to recognize the severity of his transgressions and refuses to show any remorse for his actions. Considering the serious nature of his actions and the weighty aggravating factors, [Fina's] misconduct warrants a suspension of one year and one day."

The same disciplinary board two months ago recommended public censure for former Penn State counsel Baldwin, Fina's partner in crime, for her role in betraying her three former clients before the grand jury -- Penn State President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, and Vice-President Gary Schultz.

Because of the misconduct by Fina and Baldwin, the state Superior Court previously threw out grand jury charges against the Penn State administrators for alleged conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

36 comments:

  1. and still, no one has looked into the leaked Sandusky Grand Jury material that gave Fina and Krewe the luxury of getting their narrative out well before the facts could be digested by the media and public (à la Bill Barr and the Mueller Report). Fina got off light as far as I'm concerned.

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  2. As a former senior deputy attorney general who for a short time oversaw the three statewide investigatory grand juries, I opted to leave the office rather than permit abuse of the extraordinary investigative tool so crucial to prosecutors.

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    1. This comes as no surprise.

      My question remains - did this rat ever get a majority of a grand jury to vote to hand up a presentment? If, as alleged, he was willing to deceive the supervising judge, why bother with the formalities of taking a vote?

      For almost every grand jury case in PA, a page is attached stating that the majority concurs. It is signed by the foreperson. These are easy to find - they are always the first, second, or third page of the document.

      The exception? I have not found a single one for a case that Fina ran. It's as if his grand juries never voted, and somebody just handed a draft presentment to the judge.

      Please help me sort this out.

      Delete
  3. Mary were you around for the Penn State probe? Ever work with Mr. Fina?

    Ralph

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  4. Being that Frank(the Rat) Fina provably suborned perjury, fabricated evidence, and tampered with witnesses, I would say that he got off light. His understudy, "nobody is above the law" Shapiro is smiling. The Long Arm of the Law should slap them both into irons!

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  5. There is little to be satisfied in this rebuke of the unethical illegal practice of this shyster X- Prosecutor. We live in a time when the Legal Profession should be scrutinized with unfettered power. Lawyers who operate and conspire with News Organizations should be treated as severely as the parties they have made a career of harming.


    Fina's entire professional Case History should be examined and any and all defendants should be given new venues to prove their innocence by declaration of Prosecutorial Misfeasance and clear Malfeasance.

    All the celebrated cases he was a part of and all the so called journalists who conspired with he and his corrupt partners should be held accountable.

    Why are Journalists protected in such cases as they are endemic to the age old Judicial Crisis of baring false witness to gain an intended consequence and verdict.

    Thank you Ralph, for your dogged pursuit of those complicit in the knowing effort to lie cheat and steal the truth and to right the wrongs that can be established.

    Let this be a reminder to the Stuart Bykofsky's of the Media, you have been on the gravy train for too long and you don't deserve to be paid let alone demand a raise.

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  6. I think Frank Fina should be disbarred permanently. I will be surprised if he loses his license for a year given the widespread rot in the PA justice system.

    The federal judge who recently vacated Spanier's conviction showed how corrupt they all were to deny Spanier his constitutional rights. Fina was part of that too, along with the last 5 PA Attorneys General, the judges in the Spanier case, the Superior Court and the PA Supreme Court.

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  7. Fina should vacate PA to practice in Oakland CA where magic mushrooms are now protected medicine.

    He could continue to practice in his long time alternative universe and have a Government in full support of his corrupt reality.

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  8. If Attorney- Client Privilege should be considered sacrosanct why was the eminent barrister Louie Freeh given latitude to ignore it.

    Let then put Freeh in front of the Disciplinary Board now, it's time to review him as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How did Louis Freeh ignore attorney-client privilege?

      Freeh did get a sworn statement from Cynthia Baldwin, which differed significantly from her grand jury testimony. The Disciplinary Board should have looked at those two versions to see if they represented perjury.

      Delete
    2. And John Snedden got a third statement from Baldwin, who told him that Spanier was a "man of integrity." Which is the opposite of what she told the grand jury about Spanier.

      Delete
    3. Was Snedden in the Grand Jury Room during the examination of any witnesses or was he able to read the Grand Jury Testimony?

      I was under the impression that Grand Jury Testimony is privileged and not available for public examination unless granted under extreme circumstances by Court Order.

      Delete
    4. No, they wouldn't have allowed Snedden in there. It's basically the prosecutor's lounge, only prosecution witnesses there to make their case behind closed doors. Defense lawyers aren't even allowed in the grand jury. If they accompany a client to the grand jury, my understanding is they're not allowed in but a witness can raise his hand and ask for a break to confer with his lawyer.

      Delete
    5. Grand jury testimony was selectively made public by a judge to damage Curley, Schultz, Spanier, Paterno and Penn State. The grand jury testimony of Curley, Schultz, Spanier, Paterno and Cynthia Baldwin was made public.

      The grand jury testimony of Mike McQueary and other key witnesses was not. Snippets of grand jury testimony were revealed in court by defense attorneys, who could see grand jury testimony of witnesses they were questioning.

      The grand jury system is designed to be unfair to defendants. It essentially convicts them in the public mind at the time they are indicted. It hamstrings their defense because they can't even see the full testimony of witnesses against them until a trial date is set. Thus, it was impossible for defense attorneys to immediately dispute the huge lie in the Sandusky grand jury presentment that McQueary told Paterno he witnessed "anal intercourse" when McQueary never told Paterno that.

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    6. Ralph - A PA grand jury witness can have their lawyer seated next to them. That was how Cynthia Baldwin was able to sit in for the testimony of Curley, Schultz and Spanier. They each identified her as their lawyer, and she did not speak up to correct them. When she became a witness against her 3 clients, she said she was not their lawyer so she misled the grand jury and was in the grand jury room under false pretenses.

      Baldwin even spoke up in the grand jury session to clarify trivial issues, such as Penn State having a separate police force from State College. We know that because the grand jury testimony of Curley, Schultz and Spanier was publicly released.

      If the mainstream media was representing the public interest, and not in the prosecutors' pocket, they would have made a big issue that Baldwin corrupted the Sandusky grand jury by violating grand jury secrecy.

      Delete
    7. This is an excellent question.

      Delete
  9. Is it possible that the sworn testimony in front of a Secret Grand Jury can be altered by the Prosecution to damage a defendant? To be able to go beyond the line of questioning and fit a narrative to seal an indictment.

    We know that in the case of charges made to a FISA Court Prosecution has manipulated the truth and omitted exculpatory evidence to deceive the Court, so the question is what are the limits of Prosecutorial Misconduct?

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    1. Judges just seem to take the prosecutors' word for it despite the known unethical conduct by prosecutors like Frank Fina and huge lies in grand jury presentments.

      At the Curley-Schultz preliminary hearing in Dec. 2011, a prosecutor read Paterno's grand jury testimony into the court record. I doubt anyone checked to be sure the prosecutor didn't misspeak by comparing his reading to the video or audio record of Paterno's testimony.

      We just have to assume the grand jury transcript the prosecutor used was 100% accurate and his reading was 100% accurate.

      Delete
  10. In this case, there doesn't seem to be any limits. Instead of altering testimony, however, as with the McQueary rape story, if they don't hear what they want, prosecutors can just rewrite the story when they put out the grand jury report. As in the case of making up an anal rape that they had no evidence for.

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    1. Eshbach even had to admit at trial that the "anal rape" count was put in to strengthen the Commonwealth's case. How that is even legal, let alone not considered prosecutorial misconduct -- in ANY case -- is mind blowing. Charge someone with something; release it to the press; boom; case closed.

      Delete
    2. Ralph, that seems to be what happens here. I've been following since you first pointed out the 20+ factual errors in the Archdiocese case.

      The grand jury report is supposed to be voted on by the grand jury. The foreperson submits it to the supervising judge. The chain of custody of the document should be prosecutor, foreperson, judge.

      Generally, this should prevent false narratives from getting through. But the grand jurors are sworn to secrecy, so even if they are jumping up and down in rage as they read about charges they may not have approved, there is nothing they can say. We've heard of plenty of leaks from prosecutors, but RARELY, if ever, do we hear of a leak from a juror.

      That means that the single most important protection we have against altered narratives is the foreperson's signature on a sheet submitting the presentment to the judge.

      Yet, for Frank Fina grand juries, those sheets are not found. This seems to be nearly exclusive (and universal) to Frank Fina's work. The MO seemed to be to let the grand jury vote on the simple cases, but for those that the grand jury would not be predictable, just give a draft presentment to a police officer and let it run its course.

      Delete
    3. You may be onto something here that bears more investigation. You're right the 2005 grand jury report on the Philadelphia archdiocese by former D.A. Lynne Abraham is signed by the jury foreperson.

      Interestingly, the 2011 grand jury report on the Philadelphia archdiocese done by the corrupt Seth Williams has a page for the foreperson to sign, but in all the copies that are online, this page has been left blank. Come to think of it, I have never seen a copy of the 2011 grand jury report that had a signature from the grand jury foreperson. Is this an oversight or a telling admission?

      And you are right, the 2011 grand jury presentment on Sandusky does not contain a page for the jury foreperson to sign off on the document. Maybe this is the way Fina did business. Will have to make some official inquiries.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous - A grand juror could contact a judge if they knew the prosecutor was misrepresenting the grand jury's conclusions or vote. Although with the often chummy relationship between judges and prosecutors even that may not go anywhere. I'm not sure where a grand jury could go if a PA judge ignored them, maybe a federal judge, the PA legislature or the governor.

      A grand juror could also contact a reporter and hope whistleblower laws would protect them. I bet if a grand juror made such accusations, the Attorney General's office would do far more to identify the leaker than done for leaks in the Sandusky case. They would likely question each grand juror under oath to identify the leaker.

      Ralph - It seems likely that the name of the grand jury foreperson for the 2011 report on the Philadelphia archdiocese was omitted to maintain confidentiality.

      There should be a common sense law that does the following:

      1. When indictments are made the defendant's lawyer gets copies of the grand jury presentment and all grand jury testimony related to the charges.

      2. If the grand jury presentment is made public, the grand jury vote on each charge will also be made public and the grand jury testimony will also be made public.

      Delete
    5. If confidentiality was a concern with the 2011 grand jury report, why did the grand jury foreperson sign the 2005 grand jury report? Same jurisdiction, same subject matter.

      Delete
  11. This should represent an indictment of the Grand Jury System. Smart Lawyers from all sides have been manipulating lies and distortions for years.

    There should be a scholarship and chair endowed at the Beasley School of Law and an Award for Legal Investigative Journalism.

    You now have the great trifecta, Fina Kane and Williams, Legends as Prosecutors who are jailed or "should be."

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  12. Interesting discussion here, the kind that's illegal on inquirer.com.

    I'm more familiar with the rules for federal grand jury investigations, as practiced in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The depths of the Baldwin-Fina conspiracy are pretty amazing when viewed from the different angles brought up here.

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    1. I don't think Baldwin was a willing conspirator with Fina. It appears she was coerced by Fina to save herself from charges. Fina sent her an email in Dec. 2012 threatening her with obstruction charges for not promptly providing subpoenaed materials. That gave Fina leverage over her to get her to testify against Spanier. Being indicted on criminal charges would have been a worse outcome for Baldwin than the possible public censure by the PA Supreme Court that she now faces. She has a good chance of avoiding even the public censure as a former PA Supreme Court justice herself.

      It may be that Fina never intended to use Baldwin as a witness at trial but just get lots more bad publicity for Spanier. It was damning to have Spanier's attorney, coworker and former state supreme court justice turn against him. Baldwin's testimony was very weak. It was her opinions and hearsay. She blamed Spanier for her failures in providing subpoenaed materials to the Attorney General in a timely manner or at all.

      After all the hoopla over Baldwin, she never was cross-examined by a defense attorney and made to answer for her many failures at Penn State and her contradictory statements under oath. For example, she was not asked to explain why she never bothered to ask the secretaries at Schultz's old office to look for Schultz's Sandusky file after Schultz told her about the existence of the file. Apparently it was still in the office and at least one secretary knew about it.

      Delete
    2. Excuse the pun. but judging the poor representation that Spanier enlisted as counsel, he has grounds to sue his Legal Team for malpractice.

      What were in the Spanier subpoenaed documents that were so important to Fina's case?

      Baldwin clearly conducted herself unprofessionally and caused great harm to her client.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous - Schultz filed a lawsuit against Baldwin for legal malpractice. I don't know what happened to it.

      Fina subpoenaed Penn State, not Spanier, for almost everything related to Sandusky. He was upset he did not get the emails more promptly, although court testimony said they were turned over promptly to Baldwin by the PSU computer tech guy.

      Fina was also upset he didn't get the Schultz file on Sandusky sooner, although there is evidence to suggest he did get it much sooner than when Freeh claimed to have discovered it. There is no reason Spanier would have known about Schultz'a file on Sandusky, but Baldwin did because Schultz told her and the grand jury about it.

      Sandusky stored a bunch of Second Mile stuff on campus. Some of that was used against Sandusky. Again, Spanier would not have known about that. Baldwin was responsible for obtaining the subpoenaed materials so if anyone should have made inquires to Sandusky's former secretaries and coworkers, it should have been her.

      Delete
  13. Fina needs more than a spanking, he needs to go to jail. More prosecutors need the same type of treatment and it should be made public. This entire case should be reviewed due to his behavior.
    Why would the disciplinary board think he would be remorseful if prosecutors never get in trouble for their actions. The justice department has to start to police itself, with input from defendants and defense attorneys.
    Using deception and outrageous lies for personal gain would send most professions to jail for extended periods. The DOJ has a very poor standing in the eyes of most Americans right now.

    It's really amazing that he was disciplined at all, now the legal community knows about Fina, too bad this is just a drop in the bucket of holding prosecutors accountable. Where do people like Fina and McGettigan come from? What school produces lawyers who think it's legal to lie? What law firm would employ such scoundrels.

    Undermining the public trust and bring shame to the profession, had Fina been an elected official the public would be clamoring for him to be sent to jail for decades. Fina participated in betraying fellow citizens, that should be a punishable offense.

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    1. I don't think it matters what school they went to or what they were taught. This is a matter of what your soul looks like; whether you are a good or bad person deep down inside behind all the layers of onion that we call ourselves. This proves that Fina is nothing more than a horrible, trashy person inside that doesn't truly understand right from wrong. Literally - doesn't comprehend that concept of justice right vs wrong. Its foreign to someone like him because in his own world - he's always right. This is just a small blip on his radar as an arrogant douche bag. His time will come to be judged worse than his judgement of others here on earth. You would think any normal person would be embarrassed of being accused of such issues - not Fina. Too cool for school.

      Delete
  14. As to "Where do people like Fina and McGettigan come from?"

    Ironically enough Frank Fina is a graduate of Dickinson School of Law, which became Penn State Dickinson School of Law in 1997. Fina graduated before the merger.

    We never heard of evidence that Fina opposed the merger. Big Trial reported in 2018 that Spanier filed a motion to have a superior court judge who ruled against him recused because he had opposed the merger and made negative comments about Spanier. That motion failed.

    Fina's professional resume mentions Bonusgate and Computergate but not his prominent role in Porngate. It's a laugh that his bio claims "He is known for a high level of integrity ..."

    http://www.frankfinalaw.com/about-us.html


    Joseph McGettigan has a BA from Temple University in English literature and a law degree from University of San Diego School of Law. His bio makes no claims about his integrity.

    https://mcandrewslaw.com/our-attorneys/joseph-e-mcgettigan/

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  15. Thank you both for your response to people like Fina and McGettigan, one theory could be that its the culture to lie to get ahead. Its acceptable practice since no one is watching, or no one is reporting the behavior to the bar for disciplinary action. Why tell the truth if it does not matter if you lie or distort the facts. The Justice Department does a deplorable job of policing itself.

    The average mainstream media reader believes the prosecution over a defendant, which is what prosecutors bank on to pass off outrageous lies as truth. Prosecutors do not want the truth to interfere with their cases.

    I read why he was disciplined but was it because it involved another lawyer that so bothered the disciplinary board? There has to be a litany of things just as egregious he is guilty of on this case that would have warranted disciplining him.

    Hopefully Lucifer will have a warm welcome for him.

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  16. who filed the complaint against Fina?

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  17. unpopular opinion
    there are too many accusers against Sandusky- men from the 1970’s came forward from when they were kids about Sandusky... besides what grown man takes showers with kids like that?
    anyhow.. while i do think sandusky is guilty i also feel so is the state, media, freeh, baldwin etc were stepping over eachother to be on the “right” side of history (so to speak) and taking the law in their own hands and ignoring protocol etc.
    so those for of you sticking up for the state et el., you should be pissed off — because sandusky just may get out of jail one day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the popular wisdom; 36 accusers can't be all fakes, right?

      Through my experiences in reporting on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I found out accusers can be fakes. Like Billy Doe, the altar boy who sent four men to jail -- one of them died there -- and collected $5 million, and turned out to be a complete fake.

      What if you could stand up and tell a story of abuse, a story that didn't require any evidence, any witnesses, any contemporaneous reports, and still get paid millions of dollars? And not even have to give up your real name? You think there'd be some dirtballs out there who might go for that deal?

      In this case, on the criminal side, it was up to the cops, the prosecutors, the judges, the defense lawyers, the therapists, to do their job and weed out the fakes. And in every category I just mentioned, there was misconduct, outright lies and deception.

      On the civil side, the trustees did nothing to vet the claims.

      A third of the 36 had criminal records.

      In short, all of the findings in this case are suspect. As are the stories of the alleged victims which remain to this day unvetted.

      Delete

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