Pa. State Senator Found Guilty of Corruption Charges

Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012 03:21 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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An Allegheny County, Pa., jury has  found Pennsylvania State Sen. Jane Orie guilty of several corruption charges, which could put the prominent Pittsburgh-area Republican behind bars and end her political career.
 
The late Monday verdicts came after three weeks of testimony in a retrial on charges that Orie had used state staff for political work, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
 
Her attorney, William Costopolos, said the jury agonized over the verdicts, and that Orie, who maintained her innocence on the stand during the trial, plans to appeal the case.
 
Orie was charged with using her legislative staffers to campaign for herself and her sister, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Another sister, Janine Orie, faces criminal charges stemming from when she was Melvin’s administrative assistant.
 
The justice has been identified as a target of a grand jury investigation, but has not been charged.
 
Orie was first tried on the criminal charges in February 2011, but those proceedings ended in a mistrial.
 
This time around, Orie also faced charges of perjury, tampering with evidence, and election code violations, stemming from her first trial. The tampering charges referred to a number of hand-written directives prosecutors said Orie added to printouts of emails and memos, including cutting and pasting the signature of her former chief of staff, Jamie Pavlot, on a mileage letter.
 
Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus, the lead prosecutor, said Orie could potentially be sentenced to seven years in prison for each felony charge.

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