Jane Orie to be freed from prison on Feb. 9

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As expected, former state Sen. Jane Orie will be released from prison early next year after serving her minimum possible sentence.

Following a parole hearing before two board members, the panel this week agreed that Orie should be released.

According to the court decision, Orie's release is based on "your positive institutional behavior, the positive recommendation made by the Department of Corrections and your demonstrated motivation for success."

Provided there are no problems where she's residing at the State Correctional Institution Cambridge Springs, Orie will be released to her residence from custody on Feb. 9.

Orie, 52, was sentenced in June 2012 to spend 21/2 to 10 years in prison for her conviction on 14 felony counts. She will spend the rest of the 10-year sentence on parole.

The former majority whip was charged with using her legislative staff to do campaign work for her and her sister, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

Orie's first trial in spring 2011 ended during the first full day of jury deliberations when the prosecution accused her of submitting fraudulent documents to the court.

In her second trial, Orie was found guilty of theft of services and conspiracy, as well as forgery and tampering with evidence, stemming from the documents in the first trial.

Orie Melvin also was found guilty earlier this year of theft of services and conspiracy.

Because Jane Orie's offenses were nonviolent, the former senator was eligible for a reduced sentence under the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive -- which dropped her minimum time to be served to 221/2 months.

Orie's defense attorney, William Costopoulos, said he did not attend the parole board hearing, and that she represented herself.

"I'm just glad that this chapter in her life is winding down," he said.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.

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