3 computers seized in Jane Orie case
Confiscated were the hard drives from a desktop computer that had been at state Sen. Jane Orie's district office in McCandless, a desktop computer from her Harrisburg office and a Senate-issued laptop.
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An ongoing investigation of alleged document-tampering in the ethics case against state Sen. Jane Orie advanced Friday, when state police seized three Senate computer hard drives in Harrisburg that had been assigned to the politician.
Investigators believe the computers could contain evidence of tampering and information about whose computer ID was used to "facilitate the scanning and insertion of signatures, and/or the deletion of computer files," according to a search warrant affidavit.
State police executed the search warrant on the Senate Computer Services office at 8:45 a.m.
Confiscated were the hard drives from a desktop computer that had been at the Republican lawmaker's district office in McCandless, a desktop computer from her Harrisburg office and a Senate-issued laptop.
The seizure was not unexpected.
"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," Matthew H. Haverstick, an attorney with Philadelphia law firm Conrad O'Brien, said in a statement.
"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."
Charges that Ms. Orie used her legislative staff and resources to do campaign work on state time ended in a mistrial in March when the defense introduced documents with questionable signatures.
That development led Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to file additional criminal charges, including perjury, tampering with evidence, forgery and obstruction.
Last month, attorneys from the Senate Republican Caucus told Mr. Zappala's office that a half-dozen documents used as defense exhibits had gone missing from the Senate computer system.
On Sept. 26, the affidavit said, the caucus "discovered additional evidence of file modifications within the Orie defense documents previously scanned into the Senate computer network by Orie staffers."
Key files disappeared from one computer backup to the next, the affidavit said. The caucus notified investigators Oct. 6 of additional file modifications it had discovered, including one made by someone using Ms. Orie's Senate login name.
On Oct. 14 Senate Computer Services collected the three computers that were the subject of Friday's search warrant.
Ms. Orie's private attorney, William Costopoulos, did not return requests for comment.
First Published October 22, 2011 12:00 am