Jane Orie

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Jane Clare Orie
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 40th district
In office
April 3, 2001 – May 21, 2012
Preceded by Melissa Hart
Succeeded by Randy Vulakovich
Constituency Parts of Allegheny and Butler Counties
Republican Whip
of the Pennsylvania Senate
In office
January 2, 2007 – April 7, 2010
Preceded by Jeff Piccola
Succeeded by Pat Browne
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 28th district
In office
January 7, 1997[1] – April 3, 2001[2]
Preceded by Elaine Farmer
Succeeded by Mike Turzai
Constituency Part of Allegheny County
Personal details
Born (1961-09-18) September 18, 1961 (age 52)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Residence McCandless Township, Pennsylvania
Occupation Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Jane Clare Orie is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served in both houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. While in the State Senate, she represented the 40th district, including portions of Allegheny County and Butler County, and served as the Majority Whip. Orie is also a former member of the State House, where she represented the 28th district. She resigned from the State Senate in May 2012, following her conviction on 14 counts of forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services, and served the minimum two-and-a half years of a two-and-a-half to ten year prison sentence.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Orie was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a prominent western Pennsylvania political family. Her sister Joan Orie Melvin was a judge on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and is now suspended from her position as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Jane Orie earned her B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in 1984 and her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 1987. Prior to elective office, Orie served as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County and later as a deputy state attorney general.

Career[edit]

In 1996, Orie ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 28th House District after incumbent representative Elaine Farmer dropped off the ballot to fight bone marrow cancer.[4] Orie won that November and won re-election in 1998 and 2000.[5]

In 2000, State Senator Melissa Hart was elected to the United States House of Representatives and resigned her Senate seat. In a special election Orie was the GOP nominee against Democrat James Rooney, a grandson of late Pittsburgh Steelers owner, Art Rooney. A key issue in that race was public funding for the new Steelers stadium, Heinz Field, which was unpopular in parts of the county. Orie tried to tie Rooney to this unpopular issue, even running a television advertisement depicting the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium.[6] Orie defeated Rooney with 59% in the election on March 11, 2001, and was seated on April 3, 2001. Orie won re-election in 2002 and 2006, both times taking more than 70% against minimal opposition.[7][8]

In May 2006, Bob Jubelirer and David Brightbill, the Republicans' two top leaders were defeated in the primary election, victims of the legislative pay raise fallout. Jeff Piccola left his post as whip to run for President Pro Tempore. This opened the door for Orie, who defeated John Gordner for the position.[9]

Allegations of impropriety[edit]

Authorities seized thousands of computer records from one of Orie's district offices in mid-December 2009, as part of an investigation conducted by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. Zappala would not disclose to the public a reason for investigating Orie.[1]

A story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette alleged that the core of the investigation involves the employment of one of her district offices for campaign purposes.[2]

The Post-Gazette subsequently reported that a University of Pittsburgh student intern had told prosecutors of widespread political campaigning inside the office on behalf of Orie's sister, State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. The story also revealed that Orie's chief of staff had begun cooperating with investigators.[3] Justice Melvin was later indicted on charges of misusing publicly funded staff for political work on her two Supreme Court races.[10]

Criminal prosecution and fallout[edit]

In April 2010, an Allegheny County grand jury indicted Jane Orie and her sister Janine Orie on multiple charges of corruption. Pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 19, both defendants were released on their own recognizance, but they were prohibited from having non-business contacts with any of the witnesses in the case.[4]

A trial date of February 7, 2011 was set for the criminal trial of Orie and her sister Janine. [5] However, while jury deliberations were underway, Judge Jeffrey Manning declared a mistrial for both the Senator and her sister upon learning that evidence submitted by the defense had been doctored. The signature of a key prosecution witness appeared to have been cut-and-pasted from one document to another. In granting the motion for a mistrial, Manning declared that the copying was so blatant that "Ray Charles could see that signature was doctored."[11] A new trial date was set for April 11, although Orie's lawyer announced his intent to appeal the decision on the grounds that a new trial would constitute a violation of Orie's right to avoid double jeopardy.[12]

Under Senate rules, a member who is charged with an offense related to his or her official duties must vacate any leadership position. Accordingly, following her indictment, Orie resigned from her position as whip in the Republican caucus.[13]

In March 2012, Orie was convicted of 14 counts of forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services, which included 5 felonies.[14] [6]

Like most states, Pennsylvania has a provision in its constitution barring convicted felons from holding office. Accordingly, she resigned from the State Senate on May 21, 2012.[15] A special election occurred on August 7, 2012, to replace her;[16] the Republican nominee in the race was State Representative Randy Vulakovich, while Democratic nominee was Sharon Brown, a health care consultant.[17] Vulakovich defeated Brown by a wide margin.[18]

On June 5, 2012, Orie was sentenced to two-and-a-half to ten years in prison. In sentencing her, Manning said he was particularly angered by Orie's submission of fraudulent documents, calling it a "flagrant and disgraceful violation" of her oath as an attorney and a violation of "the sanctity of all we do as lawyers." Manning remanded Orie to custody immediately rather than allow her to self-report.[19] She was incarcerated at the Cambridge Springs State Correctional Institution in Crawford County, where she was Inmate Number OS9360.[20]

On February 9, 2014, Orie was released from prison, after serving the minimum sentence of two-and-a-half years.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "SESSION OF 1997 - 181ST OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - No. 1". Legislative Journal. Pennsylvania House of Representatives. January 7, 1997. 
  2. ^ Cox, Harold (November 3, 2004). "Pennsylvania House of Representatives - 2001-2002". Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University. 
  3. ^ a b "Former state Sen. Jane Orie released from prison". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 9, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Mackenzie Carpenter (August 17, 2003). "The Orie sisters steal the show". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  5. ^ "Jane C. Orie (Republican)". Official Pennsylvania House of Representatives Profile. Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Archived from the original on January 25, 2000. 
  6. ^ Brian O'Neill (April 1, 2001). "Don't fault Tom Murphy for stadium deals". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  7. ^ 2002 General Election Results, Pennsylvania Department of State, 11/5/02
  8. ^ 2006 General Election Results, Pennsylvania Department of State, 11/8/06
  9. ^ Tom Barnes (November 21, 2006). "Sen. Orie wins leadership post". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  10. ^ Mandak, Joe (June 28, 2012). "Judge nixes Melvin motion to recuse county bench". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  11. ^ O'Toole, James; Barcousky, Len (March 3, 2011). "Mistrial declared in Orie case". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  12. ^ O'Toole, James (March 4, 2011). "New trial date set for Orie". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  13. ^ "Pennsylvania Senator Jane Orie charged with theft of service, resigns from leadership post". PennLive.com. The Harrisburg Patriot-News. Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  14. ^ http://www.suntimes.com, March 26, 2012, "Pa. GOP Senator Jane orie convicted of theft of services" by the AP
  15. ^ May 22, 2012, "Convicted Pa. Senator Orie Sumits Resignation"
  16. ^ "Cawley sets Aug. 7 date for special election for Orie's seat". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
  17. ^ "Vulakovich picked for state Senate run". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
  18. ^ McNulty, Timothy (August 7, 2012). "Vulakovich defeats Brown for Orie's seat". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  19. ^ June 5th 2012, "Orie sent to prison"
  20. ^ "Inmate Locator". Inmate Database. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Melissa Hart
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate for the 40th District
2001–2012
Succeeded by
Randy Vulakovich
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
Elaine Farmer
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 28th District
1997–2001
Succeeded by
Mike Turzai
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jeff Piccola
Republican Whip of the Pennsylvania Senate
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Pat Browne