ShareThis Page

Judge orders Orie to pay $180K in restitution from corruption conviction

| Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 3:07 p.m.
Then-state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, heads to court in Pittsburgh for her trial on charges of using her staff for campaign work.

Former state Sen. Jane Orie must pay $180,457 in restitution and damages stemming from her 14 corruption convictions, and her state pension will help pay the bill, an Allegheny County judge ruled on Tuesday.

Orie, 50, of McCandless is serving a 2 12- to 10-year prison sentence for using her state-paid staff for campaign work and knowingly introducing forged documents at an earlier trial. The restitution is less than a tenth what prosecutors sought.

“It seems like a reasonable amount to compensate the public for what Sen. Orie did while at the same time not being outrageously expensive,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff, who has followed the case. “It seems to be certainly a sufficiently severe penalty.”

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning delayed imposing the financial penalties while he reviewed arguments from both sides. The judge rejected the prosecution's argument that Orie could be liable for as much as $2 million.

“It is impossible to conclude from the evidence, as the commonwealth contends, that every single dollar raised by the defendant between 2001 and 2009 was the result of her violations of the Ethics Act, and this court cannot base the imposition of this additional penalty on such speculative evidence,” Manning wrote.

Manning ordered $23,269.74 in restitution, $46,537.48 in damages and $110,650 for the legal costs the Senate Republican Caucus incurred for its use of outside counsel to represent Orie during the initial stages of the investigation. The judge also imposed court costs, which have not been calculated.

Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, did not return a call for comment. He argued that Orie should not be liable for any money the Senate Republican Caucus spent, which the judge disagreed with.

The judge ordered that the $89,670.18 in Orie's state pension account be forfeited and applied to her debt to taxpayers. After her release from prison, Orie must make payments of $500 per month until the remaining balance is paid.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement that the 13-page opinion was well-reasoned and “clearly recognizes the financial damage done by this individual.”

“It is a shame that despite the fact that the General Assembly of Pennsylvania has never sought taxpayer approval to pay for attorney fees to defend corrupt politicians, these fees are routinely paid and the citizens of this commonwealth are twice victimized upon conviction of corrupt politicians unless restitution is had,” Zappala said.

Other convicted politicians have high restitution bills.

A judge ordered former state House Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, to pay $1 million in restitution for his role in a scheme to use public resources for campaign purposes.

Former state Rep. Mike Veon has to pay at least $1.9 million.

Orie is at a women's prison at Cambridge Springs in Crawford County, a dorm-style prison for less-violent inmates. She transferred from the women's prison at Muncy, Lycoming County, on June 26.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.