Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin suspended herself from all official duties today because she is to surrender on nine criminal counts this afternoon. She is the third Orie sister to face indictment in a wide ranging corruption investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney. Interestingly Gov. Tom Corbett overlooked all of this while supposedly investigating the Republican Senate caucus. State Sen. Jane Orie faces sentencing next month for her role in using taxpayer funded resources for political purposes. Janine Orie is set to face trial for running Melvin’s two Court races from the Senator’s offices using state staff and offices.
The dark cloud hanging over Justice Melvin as those cases unraveled was dire and today she faces the consequences. At 2 PM she will surrender on charges handed down by a grand jury. Her court race in 2009 involved sister Janine running her campaign from sister Jane’s State Senate offices using that taxpayer paid staff. Those staffers handled all facets of the campaign including speech writing, fundraising, driving the candidate and even working at the polls. Part of the Senator’s charges included obstruction of justice for trying to eliminate campaign materials from her state office before search warrants could be exercised, an obvious cover-up which was caught on surveillance.
As I sit back and reflect on all that I heard about that corrupt campaign at the time I can’t but contemplate “we could have had a Judge Panella!”
State Senator Jane Orie was arraigned yesterday on a slew of new charges related to her mistrial on political corruption charges. The legal proceeding was ended when it was discovered that documents submitted by her defense had been forged. They were sent tot he Secret Service for examination and now she has been charged with altering them and having her attorneys submit them as authentic during her defense on charges she used state funds, staffers and resources for political campaigns. Included was the campaign to elect her sister Joan Orie Melvin to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The new charges as enumerated by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are as follows:
5 felony perjury counts (from her testimony)
6 tampering with evidence
1 obstruction of law
various forgery counts
The following statements made by the Senator at her trial have been charged against her as being perjury:
“I never had a campaign office across the street;”
“I have never had an office other than the La Casa Blanca;”
“I have no relationship with the realtor across the street to be able to rent an office space,”
“Yeah. That’s the office that’s behind — in the same complex that I am in but behind the building.”
A new trial based on the original charges is scheduled for this fall.
The Orie’s ship has taken a torpedo and is sinking fast. You can tell by all the rats suddenly turning state’s evidence. This is going to be interesting because these sisters have used hardball tactics of threats and intimidation against every one of their political opponents and now, unafraid of reprisals, they are running to DA Stephen Zappalla. Yesterday numerous affadavits were unsealed for the preliminary hearing on charges the State Senator and Supreme Court Justice used state offices and staffers to run political campaigns. If these were Democrats and the Pennsylvania Attorney General were investigating and prosecuting this would be part of BonusGate. Tom Corbett, though claiming he was investigating the Senate Republican Caucus, is not part of this scenario however because the Ories are Republicans.
The news yesterday that Sen. Orie and Justice Orie Melvin met with a man and told him to threaten the DA for them in response to his investigation of them has completely shattered their careers and will surely result in prison sentences. I doubt there is a better way to get a DA to comb through everything you’ve ever done than to threaten him. The Orie ship is sinking, the rats are leaving and this is about to get very, very interesting.
The other major scenario which will play out will be Orie Melvin’s presence on the bench in any case involving a District Attorney. Is she fit now to pass judgment in any criminal case coming before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court? I’d insist on her recusal if I were an attorney. How will the other Justices react to this and will they tolerate her much longer? Justice Orie Melvin must either resign from the bench or be impeached. She obviously isn’t fit to sit in judgment on anything in the criminal docket.
The Orie sisters have met their main nemesis and it stares back at them in a mirror: themselves. The audacity, hubris and arrogance of these two women knows no bounds. According to an affadavit unsealed today as part of their preliminary hearing Robert Kramm says Jane Orie and Joan Orie Melvin called him into a meeting to have him threaten DA Stephen Zappalla for opening an investigation that they violated state law. The Orie sisters are accused of using the Senator’s offices and staff to run the Judge’s campaigns for the Supreme Court.
This seems to be in character for these two misfits: threaten them with legal action for violating the public trust (along with various state laws) and they turn around and threaten you. No better examples exist of public “servants” who deserve to go to jail. The Ories seem to think they are above the law in Pennsylvania. Of course they have been up to now because no one else has stood up to their bullying and intimidation tactics. The fact the District Attorney has this testimony is very damning. it means someone they trusted has turned on them.
Today’s onset of their preliminary hearing was interesting. A state expert on the ethics law testified that using state offices and staff is a violation. The Orie lawyer contested that assertion but sine the PA Attorney General has been prosecuting Democrats for doing exactly what the Ories did and is sending them to prison seems to escape them. The question is why hasn’t Tom Corbett investigated and prosecuted the Ories? Oh yes, the Ories are Republicans…