'Slap!,' went the wet noodle: The Melvin sentence
No wonder Joan Orie Melvin was smiling as she left the Allegheny County Courthouse on Tuesday. You'd be smiling too if you had just escaped serving time in a state prison for your conviction on felony public corruption charges.
The ex-Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, 58, a Republican, could have been sentenced to up to 25 years for using public resources to engage in politics. The prosecution sought a four-year sentence for Mrs. Melvin. But Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus, despite delivering a tongue-lashing, broke out the wet noodle to slap her wrist — three years of house arrest followed by two years of probation.
Oh, indeed, the judge also ordered her photo to be taken in handcuffs and letters of apology sent with it to every member of the state judiciary. But what's a little form-letter writing as you lounge on your couch in your jammies and watch “The Price Is Right” every day?
Melvin also must pay $55,000 in restitution and work three days a week at a soup kitchen.
In February, Melvin and her sister Janine were convicted on a total of 12 counts of theft, misapplication of public property and conspiracy. Janine was sentenced to a year of house arrest and two years of probation. (Prosecutors sought a 45-month sentence for the “linchpin” of this publicly financed boiler-room operation.) Another sister, Jane, the former state senator, is serving a 2 1⁄2-to-10-year prison term for her own public corruption. (Bet she's ticked.)
Joan Orie Melvin engaged in felonious activity with impunity. She did so in a climate of mass public corruption throughout commonwealth government. She's never taken responsibility for her crimes. And her family continues to allege persecution by her prosecutors. And she's sentenced to house arrest?
That's a gross miscarriage of justice.
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.