Janine Orie ordered destruction of campaign documents, longtime Melvin secretary testifies
A longtime secretary for state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin said Tuesday that Melvin's sister ordered her to delete political files from her state computer after Allegheny County prosecutors began investigating another sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie.
Katherine Squires told the jury that after it became known that District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. was investigating allegations the senator's staff was doing political work for Melvin's benefit, Janine Orie directed her to get rid of any campaign materials on her computer in Melvin's judicial office. Janine Orie functioned as Melvin's office manager and as a secretary.
“I came in to work and Janine left me a note to delete all campaign files on my computer,” said Squires, 53, of Lincoln Place. “I still had floppy disks as a backup, and I gave them to Janine.”
Squires gave her testimony on the eighth day of the corruption trial for Melvin, 56, of Marshall and her sister Janine Orie, 58, of McCandless. They are charged with using the judge's staff and equipment when Melvin was campaigning for the high court in 2003 and 2009. Both pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The trial before Common Pleas Judge Lester G. Nauhaus started on Jan. 25. Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus told the judge he expected to finish the government's case by Thursday.
“Do we have the note?” said Janine Orie's attorney, James DePasquale.
“I don't know what happened to the note,” Squires said.
“Did you ask why she wanted it off the computer?” DePasquale asked.
“No, I didn't ask her,” Squires said.
At times Squires' testimony prompted Janine Orie to shake her head, most noticeably when Squires said campaign work during the 2009 election year began in the office as early as January.
Janine Orie initially went to trial in a joint case with the senator in 2011, but the case ended in a mistrial. Zappala retried Jane Orie separately, and a jury convicted her in March on 14 counts.
Squires and Cathy Skidmore, a former Melvin law clerk, told the jury they took occasional trips during lunch to Allegheny Valley Bank, Downtown, to deposit campaign contribution checks into Melvin's campaign account. Both also said they worked a polling place on Election Day 2003 when Melvin first ran for the high court.
Questioned by the defense, Skidmore said she saw little politicking in the office and the political work she did on state time Janine Orie directed her to do.
“My client in seven years never gave you a directive to do anything political?” Melvin's attorney, Daniel Brier, asked.
“I don't believe so,” said Skidmore, 52, of Venetia in Washington County.
Bobby Kerlik and Adam Brandolph are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Kerlik can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Brandolph can be reached at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Unlike years past, strength of 2014 Steelers could be offense
- Pirates lose on late Cardinals rally
- Rossi: Cole perfect pitcher to start pivotal series for Pirates
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu made 1st-time captain; Roethlisberger named for offense
- Pirates notebook: Sanchez returns to Bucs in offensive slump
- Pakistani premier may be forced out as protests turn violent
- Family of Children’s Hospital transplant baby urges feds to change cochlear implants policy
- Anti-abortion law in effect in Louisiana, with a caveat
- Traffic for eastbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel getting congested
- Steelers formalize practice squad
- Washington County’s Cross Creek grapples with complaints about backyard chicken coops