Penn. Senator Criminally Charged
In a scandalous affair involving one of
Republican state Senator Jane Orie and her sister, Janine, have been arrested and charged with theft of services, criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence. The women milked taxpayers out of tens of thousands of dollars by repeatedly using staff on the state payroll to run the other sister’s political campaign, prosecutors say.
The plan was effective because Joan Orie Melvin was elected to the state Supreme Court last year and graciously hired her now criminally charged sister, Janine, to be her chief administrative judicial assistant. Actually, Janine began working for the judge in 1998 as a secretary when Justice Orie Melvin was on the state Superior Court.
Last week a grand jury recommended that the judge’s siblings be charged though she has not been implicated. At least 15 current or former staff members of Senator Orie’s testified that they either participated in or observed non legislative work being conducted during business hours. The directive to do political and campaign work came from the senator, her chief of staff and sister (Janine), according to the grand jury presentment.
The women are represented by their attorney brother, Jack Orie, who acknowledges that his sister’s legislative staff did some campaign work “now and then” because “there is some type of overlap between political and legislative duties” in all of Pennsylvania’s elective offices.
According to grand jury testimony of legislative staffers, the violation occurred regularly not just now and then. Multiple staff members conducted campaign research, worked on fundraising, created campaign literature and made phone calls and visits to constituents. They also stuffed envelopes and created mailings featuring Justice Orie Melvin’s photograph, according to grand jury testimony.