Top Pennsylvania environmental official resigns after name surfaces in porn office emails case

Associated Press

Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator resigned Thursday, becoming the first high-level casualty in a growing scandal surrounding office emails containing pornography in the attorney general's office.

Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo gave his resignation letter to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett a week after he was one of eight ex-employees identified by the attorney general's office as having sent or received office emails with pornographic images or videos.

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In his resignation letter released by Corbett's office, Abruzzo did not mention the emails. He wrote that he had not been given an opportunity to review any evidence to support the assertions against him but that he did not want the allegations against him to become "a distraction" for the Corbett administration.

"While I have no recollection of the specific accounts described by the media, I accept full responsibility for any lack of judgment I may have exhibited in 2009," he wrote. "I do not condone that behavior and it is not a reflection of the person or professional that I am."

The letter was Abruzzo's first public comment on the emails.

Abruzzo supervised the drug task force under Corbett while Corbett was attorney general. When Corbett became governor in 2011, he made Abruzzo one of his deputy chiefs of staff and, later, environmental protection secretary, a Cabinet post.

Last week, Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office said it discovered hundreds of pornographic emails from 2008 to 2012 during its review of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse prosecution, and it identified Abruzzo and seven others who sent or received them while working there.

Of the eight, Abruzzo, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan and two other men currently work in Corbett's administration.

Corbett has requested details on the emails from Kane's office before determining if the men still employed in his administration should keep their jobs. Kane's office said it plans to release more information this week about the email chains.

Kane is a Democrat who took office last year. Corbett is in the closing weeks of an uphill re-election campaign against Democrat Tom Wolf.