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Pennsylvania

Prosecution winding down its case against Sen. Jane Orie

| Thursday, March 15, 2012

Allegheny County prosecutors attempted to prove Wednesday that state Sen. Jane Orie tried to delete and alter records in the Senate computer system after her first case ended in a mistrial last year.

Attorney Matthew Haverstick, who represents the Senate Republican Caucus, testified on the 12th day of Orie's retrial that someone using the login name "jorie" altered a computer file on April 18.

Other records were deleted, but it was unclear by whom, he said. "These would be documents that no longer exist on Senate servers. I don't have an explanation for it," Haverstick said.

Orie, 50, a McCandless Republican, is accused of directing her state-paid staff to do political work on state time. Her first trial ended in a mistrial last March after Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning found that the defense introduced forged documents as evidence.

Shortly after the mistrial, prosecutors issued a subpoena for the forged documents and others connected to the subsequent investigation, Haverstick said. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. charged Orie in August with the forgeries. She faces 26 charges between the two cases. The senator has maintained her innocence.

Prosecutors contend Orie altered and deleted computer files in an attempt to cover her tracks while prosecutors investigated the documents that led to the mistrial.

The senator showed little reaction during the testimony. She scribbled notes to her attorney, William Costopoulos, as she has done throughout the trial.

A Secret Service document examiner is expected to testify today. The prosecution could rest its case this afternoon, and the defense could begin presenting evidence. Costopoulos has not said whether Orie will testify, as she did in her first trial.

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