PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – State Sen. Jane Orie is accused of abusing her taxpayer-funded office by using it for political purposes.
On Tuesday, lawyers from both sides agreed on 12 jurors and four alternates.
Before jury selection began, the prosecution raised questions about more than 100 letters sent by Orie to people beyond her senatorial district soliciting character witnesses.
The prosecution worried that the solicitation might affect the jury pool. Judge Jeffrey Manning said he would ask potential jurors if they received such solicitations and exclude them.
According to KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes, 21 of 86 potential jurors were excluded because they live in her district. In addition, 41 of the remaining 65 said they had heard of case.
Voters in Orie’s district are automatically excluded from consideration.
In December, District Attorney Law Claus said investigators believed Orie received $30,000 to $70,000 worth of illegal benefits.
But at the close of a hearing on pretrial motions, Claus said he would try to prove the allegedly illegal work was worth $70,000 to $130,000.
That new figure would not count another $100,000 to $200,000 that he claims Orie would have paid a professional to raise about $2 million in campaign cash over the last decade.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.