Gavel Grab

Sisters of PA Justice to Stand Trial

An Allegheny County judge has ordered a trial for a Pennsylvania state senator and her sister in an alleged scandal tied to a third sister’s successful campaign for the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Jane Orie and her sister, Janine, were ordered to stand trial on charges they had Jane Orie’s publicly funded legislative staff do political work for both the senator and for the campaign of Jane Orie Melvin, now a Supreme Court justice.

A lawyer for Sen. Orie, William Costopoulos, labeled the prosecution’s evidence “trivial,” according to an Associated Press article. (The photo at right shows Sen. Jane Orie on the left, Janine Orie on the right and their brother, Jack.)

In testimony at a hearing Tuesday, former staffers for Sen. Orie said their work primarily involved envelope stuffing, knocking on doors and transporting the sisters to campaign stops. Some of the witnesses testified their campaign work for the sisters took up 40 to 70 percent of their day, KDKA-TV reported.

However, “[O]nce you factor in the comp time that these legislative staffers indicated they had coming, it has cost the taxpayers nothing,” said Costopoulos.

A lawyer for Janine Orie, James DePasquale, said charges were brought against her to add “sex appeal” to the legal case and because she is sister to a senator and an aide to Justice Melvin.  Janine Orie subsequently went on leave from her job. You can learn more background from Gavel Grab.

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