State Sen. Orie’s Attorney Questions New Charges

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Just hours after State Sen. Jane Orie’s arrest Monday night on 16 counts of forgery, perjury and tampering or fabricating evidence, her attorney William Costopoulos questioned District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s motives.

“The double jeopardy claim is before the Superior Court,” Costopoulos told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.

“The timing of these charges is suspicious, and I believe this maneuver was brought to influence the appellate process.”

Costopoulos says the Superior Court is expected to rule shortly on whether Orie can be retried on the original charges that ended in a mistrial last March.

“This timing was calculated and was strategic and serves no purpose other than to influence that Superior Court.”

And Orie’s attorney said the senator was mistreated when she turned herself in Monday night.

“There was no need to handcuff that senator and put her in a holding cell for over two and a half hours other than to demean her,” Costopoulos said.

As to the underlying charges, University of Pittsburgh criminal law professor John Burkoff says, “It’s not a slam dunk.”

Without direct evidence, Burkoff says it’s going to be hard to prove that Orie forged documents.

“To actually show that she did it, well, that has to be arrived at circumstantially and that’s not an easy leap for everyone.”

And perjury is also a difficult charge to make stick because not only must Orie have testified falsely but also, “that the person who made these misstatements actually believed they were false.”

“So one of the defenses you could have to that,” says Burkoff, “was, ‘Oh I may have said the wrong thing but I actually believed it.’”

While Orie’s attorney says the new charges are just a rehash of the old ones, the DA’s office disputes that characterization.

In a statement this afternoon, Zappala’s office added, “The roles of the persons who had possession of these documents are still being developed.”

That suggests that others beside Orie could be under investigation for this fraud.

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  • Thomas J Duttine

    Someone said it was a witchhunt….Well they found her!

  • Hamilton

    Another murderer walked this morning and Steve still is after Jane for using the states copier and paper

    • yorkieface

      see jane run

  • chance

    Appears awfully guilty on the initial count of using her office for political purposes and the “doctored” evidence. Who else ould benefit by tampering with the evidence? WHY would she do that when she knew the law? Did she think she was above it? Time will tell

  • Critter

    Lets cut the losses and build more jails.

  • orielookslikeayorkie

    dont mess with the zapala family

  • Kittanning resident

    This is nothing next to what Sen Don White has done to the taxpayers of Armstrong County in order to appease his wealthy supporters who want their new high school built in their area. An investigation would prove interference in school board elections and unprecedented interference in the districts renovation projects costing the district millions in nonrefundable architect fees. His abuse of power and cowardice was shown when he used his town hall meetings to attack the school board behind their back. Voting regions were changed in order for the White and friends candidates to get elected. Don Whites former aide was a lead in getting this accomplished and worked with Whites office to use the Armstrong Co Planning Dept to cause unnecessary delays in order to hold off PlanCon until the GOP took charge and create morecdelays until the election when they used their resources to get their selected candidates elected

    Follow the trail from the Acmh board of directors to Armstrong Co courthouse to one wealthy family in Armstrong Co to sen white and Dept of Ed. Drag Jeff Pyles office into the electoral process with such blatant inappropriateness as his own employee being chairperson for Stan Berdell. As school board director he’s also a wealthy Sen White supporter. Investigate the real reasons for Whites bill 1127 and the promotion of Mike Baker from local GOP chairmen to state level after sending out an email urging all on email list to come support White as he attacked the school board. And the list can go on and on

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