Orie requests 2-month delay in sentencing

| Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 7:06 p.m.

State Sen. Jane Orie asked a judge to delay her sentencing on corruption charges for two months, but she plans to resign from office on or before the original May 21 sentencing date, her attorney said in a court filing this week.

Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, asked Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning to delay sentencing 60 days "to give the defense additional time to prepare" and collect witnesses, according to Monday's filing. It was unclear when a ruling would be made.

"The defense is in the process of receiving reference letters on the senator's behalf to be made part of the (pre-sentence) report," Costopoulos wrote. "Sen. Jane C. Orie intends to formally resign from the Senate of Pennsylvania on or before May 21, 2012, even assuming this motion is granted."

Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said prosecutors would oppose the delay.

Costopoulos did not return a call for comment. Orie chief of staff Michael Sarfert said he could not comment on Orie's resignation plan but said Orie, 50, of McCandless, has been on personal leave from the Senate since her March 26 conviction. Convicted legislators are not required to resign until they are sentenced.

Mark Corrigan, Senate secretary, said Orie asked to be on personal leave and has not performed legislative business or voted by proxy.

"She's not able to vote because she's on house arrest," Sarfert said. "When you're on personal leave, you can't vote."

After two years of legal travails, the senator continues to collect her $82,026 annual salary, including about $8,408 since her conviction, said Senate Chief Clerk Russ Faber. Orie has not filed for per diem money during her trial or since her conviction, Faber said.

An Allegheny County jury convicted Orie of 14 of 24 criminal charges, including five felonies. Manning ordered that Orie be put on home detention with electronic monitoring pending sentencing.

Orie was convicted of using her state-paid staff to do political work for her own benefit. Orie also was found guilty of forgery for introducing documents with faked signatures as evidence during her first trial. That trial ended in a mistrial in March 2011.

In addition to Orie's salary, taxpayers paid $25,651 during her second trial for juror expenses and pay. The sheriff's office spent $5,339 in overtime, Sheriff Bill Mullen said. Jury costs were nearly $12,500 at her first trial.

Zappala first charged the senator in April 2010. She earned $78,314 that year and $79,923 in 2011.

Senate authorities have said more than $1.2 million of public money was used in relation to Orie's investigation. Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson has said the Philadelphia law firm Conrad O'Brien got $785,849 of that. The firm represented the caucus and made numerous court filings related to Orie's defense.

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