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Orie brother blames Allegheny County DA's office

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The brother of state Sen. Jane Orie fired back Tuesday against allegations of doctored evidence that caused a mistrial for her and their sister, accusing the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office of fraud.

"I think they did it because they knew they were going to lose," said Jack Orie, older brother of Jane and Janine Orie, whose three-week corruption trial ended in a mistrial last week when the judge ruled documents submitted to the jury by the defense were fraudulent. The prosecution raised the issue in the middle of deliberations.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning should have allowed the jury of seven men and five women to reach a verdict, Jack Orie said.

"I was upset that the judge, in his rant, jumped to conclusions. I think he poisoned the Allegheny County jury well against Jane" for a future trial, said Orie, an attorney who was not part of the defense team.

Manning could not be reached for comment.

In a written response, Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., did not directly address the accusation. He said prosecutors yesterday obtained a search warrant for a number of defense exhibits, on which the Secret Service will perform a forensic analysis.

"The defendants and their several attorneys are subject to a gag order," Manko said. "Their continued violation of this order will be brought to the attention of the court at the earliest convenience of the court. If the defendants and their attorneys have issues with the trial judge, we would expect those issues to be communicated in the appropriate manner before the appropriate tribunal under oath and under penalty of law."

The three documents purport to show the signature of Orie's former chief of staff Jamie Pavlot, the prosecution's star witness, verifying that she oversaw certain office responsibilities. The defense presented the documents into evidence Feb. 28 during Jane Orie's testimony.

Jack Orie said the defense gave the documents to prosecutors that night to make copies and that prosecutors returned them about 18 hours later. Orie said he believes at least one of the documents the defense submitted was unsigned. Jane Orie denied doctoring the signature during cross-examination.

Jane Orie, 49, a McCandless Republican, is accused of ordering her state-paid staff to do political work for her campaigns and those of her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Janine Orie, 56, of McCandless, an aide to Melvin, is accused of ordering the senator's staff to work on the justice's campaign.

Melvin, 54, of Marshall is not charged but is under investigation.

Jane Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, could not be reached for comment. Janine Orie's attorney, James DePasquale, declined to comment.

Manning stopped jury deliberations by declaring that the documents obviously were doctored.

"Then why did the judge allow them into evidence?" Jack Orie asked.




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