Seventy Could Testify at Sen. Jane Orie's Corruption Trial

Article excerpt

An Allegheny County jury of six men and six women is expected to begin hearing testimony Thursday in the criminal trial of state Sen. Jane Orie, the McCandless Republican accused of using state employees to perform political chores.

Attorneys interviewed 55 potential jurors for the case before Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning settled on a panel. The jurors include a teacher, an airport worker and a contractor.

Manning identified as many as 70 potential witnesses to jurors, who will decide the fate of Orie, 49, and her sister, Janine Orie, 56, of McCandless. Janine Orie is an aide to another sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who is under investigation by the county grand jury.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala's office contends that the senator and the justice benefited from the use of state-paid staff. Jane Orie is charged with theft of services and conflict of interest and related charges. Melvin, 54, of Marshall, has not been charged.

Orie has claimed the prosecution stems from her opposition to state-sponsored gambling, which the politically prominent Zappala family has supported.

Potential witnesses include Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg; Orie's former Chief of Staff Jamie Pavlot; and Ross Commissioner Dan DeMarco, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Orie for her Senate seat in November. …