Investigators seize state computers issued to Jane Orie
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Investigators today seized state Senate computers issued to state Sen. Jane Orie as part of an investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney's office into document-tampering allegations stemming from her mistrial earlier this year on ethics charges, The Associated Press reported.
Matthew H. Haverstick, an attorney with Philadelphia law firm Conrad O'Brien, which represents the Senate Republican Caucus, said in a statement:
"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."
Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., could not immediately be reached for comment.
Last month Mr. Zappala said his office was trying to learn who was responsible for about a half-dozen missing documents that were defense exhibits during Ms. Orie's trial. The documents, which were used as defense exhibits, were sought in subpoenas issued by the prosecution in the spring following the mistrial in March in the ethics case against Ms. Orie.
Ms. Orie is accused of using state resources for her own political campaigns as well as those of her sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
The documents were turned over to the prosecution by the caucus. But when the district attorney's office requested additional data on them, caucus attorneys found that the documents had since been removed from the Senate computer system.
Ms. Orie's first trial ended on the second day of jury deliberations when the prosecution went to the judge with allegations that the defense had submitted fraudulent documents as exhibits. In August, the district attorney's office charged Ms. Orie with perjury, forgery and tampering with evidence relating to the events at the first trial.
Mr. Zappala said he expected the investigation, which will involve a forensics examination of caucus computers done in conjunction with state police, to take four to six weeks. Investigators planned to search for the user name and password of the person who accessed the files and when they may have been deleted.
Ms. Orie's personal attorney, William Costopoulos, could not be reached for comment.
First Published October 21, 2011 2:10 pm