Orie prosecution uses new strategy in retrial

State Sen. Jane Orie (R., Allegheny) walks to the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, where she is on trial.
State Sen. Jane Orie (R., Allegheny) walks to the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, where she is on trial. (GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press)

It changed witness order: First was the intern who reported illegal campaigning, then Orie's top aide.

Posted: March 01, 2012

The first time around, the prosecution built its case against State Sen. Jane C. Orie slowly, calling the intern who initiated the investigation about illegal campaign work about halfway through its presentation and calling the senator's chief of staff as its penultimate witness.

This time, Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus started with former University of Pittsburgh intern Jennifer Rioja, followed by key witness Jamie Pavlot.

"There was an overall attitude that these actions were OK and even required of staff members," Rioja wrote in a complaint filed with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office. "It was a series of consistent actions, not an isolated event."

Pavlot's testimony supported that claim, saying that for her, doing campaign work for the senator dated to when she was hired as a legislative aide in 1997. "She gave the directives, and I followed those directives," Pavlot said.

Orie's trial on charges that she used her legislative staff to campaign for herself and her sister, now state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, began Wednesday before Allegheny County Court Judge Jeffrey A. Manning. It is expected to last three weeks.

Orie is charged with 26 counts, including perjury, forgery, and obstructing the administration of law, which were added last summer after the first trial of Orie and another sister, Janine Orie, ended in a mistrial. The mistrial was declared after the prosecution alleged the senator submitted forged documents as evidence.

Pavlot, who is to resume her testimony Thursday, told the jury of seven women and five men that for her, the political work included such things as organizing fund-raising events, circulating petitions, and knocking on doors.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|