(Pittsburgh, Pa) Referring to today as being “the second most disturbing and disheartening day” in his 24 years as a Judge, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning sentenced former state senator Jane Orie to 22 ½ months to 10 years in prison, as a result of her felony and misdemeanor convictions relating to campaign law violations and using forged documents in her first trial in March, 2011 that ended in a mistrial.
In March, Orie, 50 of McCandless Township, Pa was convicted of 14 of 24 counts, five of which are felonies related to her use of her paid staff to preform campaign-related work for her and on behalf of her sister Joan Melvin who was recently suspended as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice.
Perhaps the most serious of the charges that Orie was sentenced for was her use of forged documents in her trial last March which weren’t discovered until jury deliberations had begun.
Manning said that Orie’s sentence would have been lighter had she not violated her oath as an attorney “That I will use no falsehood,” Manning said as he was sentencing Orie.
“Were it only for the misuse of office staff and ethics violations therefrom a lesser penalty might be appropriate, however, you stand convicted of crimes that demean the sanctity of all we do as lawyers,” Manning added.
Manning said in strongly admonishing Orie’s use of the forged documents during her first trial “Forgery and tampering with evidence introduced by you in a judicial proceeding; there cannot be a more flagrant and disrespectful violation of that oath.” Manning added that Orie’s use of the forged documents is the “ultimate lawyer’s transgression - fraud on our system of justice."
Looking directly at Orie Manning said “March 3, 2011 was the most disheartening and disturbing day of my nearly 24 years on the bench when I came to the realization that I had sent 12 unwary citizens to deliberate - to preform the most solemn duty of citizenship with fraudulent documents – documents you identified, authenticated and introduced into evidence," as the former senator listened silently with her head lowered.
Manning was referring to several documents used by Orie in an attempt to discredit her former Chief of Staff, Jamie Pavlot. After discovering the documents that Pavlot’s signature had been cut and pasted onto documents she had not signed were forgeries, Manning declared a mistrial.
One of the documents was so badly faked Manning said “Ray Charles could see it.”
Orie’s attorneys had planned on calling 40 character witnesses to testify at today’s sentencing hearing, but at the last minute decided not to.
When asked by Manning if she had anything she wished to say before he sentenced her, Orie stoically looked at him in a courtroom packed with her friends and family and quietly said “No.”
Orie was immediately led to a holding cell by three Sheriffs’ Deputies with her head lowered. Manning told deputies the 50-year-old Orie did not need to be handcuffed.
The former senator will most likely spend most of her time at the State Correctional Institution in Muncy, Pa.