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AG's office OKs $1.4 million bill for email investigation

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The state will pay roughly $1.4 million to the law firm that combed through the Pennsylvania attorney general office's email server last year after its so-called "porngate" scandal.

Officials hope the payment will put to rest a years-long scandal that led several criminal justice officials to lose their jobs, even as former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who initiated the investigation, found herself embroiled in her own scandal.

Kane hired attorney Douglas Gansler and his Washington, D.C.-based law firm, BuckleySandler LLP in December 2015, several months after officials discovered a series of pornographic and otherwise inappropriate emails sent by employees in the state's criminal justice system.

Two state Surpreme Court justices and several other officials lost their jobs in the wake of the initial scandal, with Kane pointing to the emails as evidence of an "old boys' network" among judges, prosecutors and other state officials. Kane ultimately brought on BuckleySandler to perform a full review of the office's communications.

BuckleySandler released that report in November 2016. The 50-page examination, which covered 6.4 million documents and emails, did not uncover any discussions that could have inappropriately affected court cases. It did, however, flag about 12,000 potentially offensive emails sent on state servers between 2008 and 2015.

Attorney General Bruce Beemer, who was appointed to replace Kane in August, largely denounced the report, saying it used search terms that resulted in thousands of "innocuous emails" being flagged as inappropriate.

The $1.4 million bill for BuckleySandler's investigation is about $400,000 less than the one the state initially received from the firm, according to a news release sent by attorney general's office Wednesday.

"This agreement will allow the Office of Attorney General to move forward," Beemer said in the release. "With the new administration set to begin its work next week, it was imperative to resolve this issue and put the office in the best possible position for the future."

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Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at jwentz@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @jenni_wentz.

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