Top court won't hear Orie appeal

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not take up the appeal of state Sen. Jane Orie, who is charged with using her legislative staff and resources for campaign purposes.

In a two-sentence order issued Tuesday, the court said it would not grant the allowance of an appeal or grant a stay in the pending case.

The case went to trial in February but ended with a mistrial when the prosecution presented evidence that the defense submitted fraudulent documents as exhibits. In August, the Allegheny County district attorney's office filed new charges against the senator alleging perjury and forgery.

Ms. Orie had argued in her appeal that being retried on the first case constituted a double jeopardy violation.

Also on Tuesday, Ms. Orie waived a preliminary hearing on the new counts of forgery, perjury and tampering with evidence.

The retrial on the previous charges was scheduled to begin Oct. 3 but was continued after Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning agreed to allow both cases to proceed to trial together. The new trial date is Feb. 13.

William Costopoulos, the senator's defense attorney, said his client would prefer all of the charges be heard in one consolidated trial. "We all feel very strongly there should be one more trial to address all the questions and allegations raised," he said.

Ms. Orie, charged along with her sister, Janine Orie, is accused of misusing her legislative staff and resources to help run campaigns for herself and another sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Janine Orie is not charged with any additional counts. Justice Melvin has not been charged.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus joined in the motion to try the cases against Jane Orie together to ensure that the jurors are presented with the prosecution's allegations that she forged documents admitted during her first trial.

"This way, we're guaranteed ... all that evidence will come in and give the jury the proper perspective," Mr. Claus said.

Paula Reed Ward: 412-263-2620.


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