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Judge: Computer hardware seized during Orie and Melvin investigations stays with state police

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Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 5:27 p.m.
 

State police can keep computer hardware that investigators used to prosecute former state Sen. Jane Orie and her two sisters, an Allegheny County judge ruled.

Common Pleas Judge John A. Zottola ruled late Friday that Pennsylvania State Police will keep the email server and 15 hard drives taken during a raid of Orie's McKnight Road offices in December 2009.

Mark Seiberling, an attorney for the Senate Republican Caucus, argued last month that the hardware no longer serves a purpose for the state since jury trials convicted the sisters of misusing state resources for campaigns. Seiberling said prosecutors have copies of the equipment.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus argued the state should keep the equipment during court appeals.

Seiberling could not be reached for comment on Monday. Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., declined comment.

A jury in March 2012 convicted Orie, 51, of McCandless of forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services. She is serving 2 12 to 10 years in prison.

Her sister, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, 57, of Marshall, was found guilty of using her judicial staff to run her election campaigns in 2003 and 2009. She was ordered to serve three years' house arrest and two years' probation and pay $55,000 in fines.

A third sister, Janine Orie, 59, of McCandless, is serving one year of house arrest for her role in her sisters' schemes.

Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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