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Sentencing the Ories: Not enough time

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The words of Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus don't jibe with the sentence his office is proposing for the Sisters Orie, convicted of public corruption charges.

In a Monday filing with Common Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus, Mr. Claus said suspended and soon-to-resign state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin “should be held fully accountable under the law, and her sentence should be commensurate with the gravity of her misdeeds.”

Well, if that's the case, Mrs. Orie Melvin should be sentenced to far more than the four years in prison being proposed. How's that “fully accountable under the law” when the law calls for up to a 25-year sentence for such a gross violation of the public trust?

The same goes for Orie Melvin's sister, Janine Orie. She was considered “the linchpin in the criminal conspiracy” for which she and her sisters — that would include former state Sen. Jane Orie, already in prison — were convicted. Janine Orie could be sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. But the prosecution is seeking an even lighter sentence of just under four years.

One rationale is that the DA's office is seeking sentences more in line with that of Jane Orie, sentenced to 2 12 to 10 years in prison. But does that really serve justice in this case? The Sisters Orie, all in the public employ, arrogantly thumbed their noses at the law and hurled conspiratorial theories when their crimes were exposed. And never mind that after other pols already had been charged with similar crimes, they plied their lawbreaking with impunity.

Indeed, justice must be measured. But the measure of justice being proposed for Joan Orie Melvin and Janine Orie falls short.

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