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Police seize Orie's hard drives from Senate

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By Bobby Kerlik and Brad Bumsted,
Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Investigators seized three state Senate computer hard drives in Harrisburg this morning as part of the investigation of state Sen. Jane Orie, according to court documents filed today.

State police secured a search warrant as part of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s investigation into allegations that someone with Senate Republicans deleted computer files that could be evidence in the case. An inventory attached to the warrant states that investigators seized hard drives that contain information for Orie's Harrisburg and North Hills offices, and a laptop computer.

Matthew Haverstick, an attorney for the Senate Republican Caucus, said the seizure was part of a cooperative effort between the District Attorney's Office and the caucus.

"As part of a prearranged and cooperative effort, this morning the Senate Republican Caucus provided the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office certain requested computer data. The caucus has been, and will continue to be, fully cooperative with the District Attorney's Office, but will not further discuss the nature of the information provided because the investigation is ongoing," Haverstick said in a statement.

Mike Manko, Zappala's spokesman, declined to comment. Orie's attorney, William Costopolous, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Zappala has said detectives from his office and the state police are investigating what happened to at least five computer documents related to Orie's corruption case.

Orie, 49, a McCandless Republican, is scheduled for trial in February before Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning on charges that she and sister Janine Orie, 57, of McCandless ordered the senator's staff to perform political work on state time. Janine Orie worked as an aide to state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, another sister who is not charged with wrongdoing.

Orie's first trial ended in a mistrial in March when Manning ruled defense attorneys introduced doctored documents as evidence. Zappala in August charged Orie with 16 new counts, including forgery and perjury.



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