PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – State Sen. Jane Orie took the stand Monday in her corruption trial on Monday.
Before she took the stand, Cyril Wecht, the last of her character witnesses, testified on her behalf.
He was instructed by the judge not to go into his feud with District Attorney Stephen Zappala.
Wecht did not bring it up in front of the jury, but talked about it to reporters. He has been critical of the prosecution of the case, calling it politically motivated.
“‘Anybody that screws with me – and that wasn’t the word – or my family is going to be indicted,’” Wecht said. “So put those together and then you can think for yourself. Here it is. It’s played out.”
Orie is accused of having her employees do campaign work on state time in her legislative office and forging documents.
Since her mistrial last year, the DA has filed an additional 16 counts against Orie, including forgery, perjury and tampering with or fabricating evidence.
Orie testified that all the memos presented in court during the first trial were genuine to her knowledge. The jury will also hear about campaign work done on state time.
Orie put responsibility for staff use of time at the feet of her chief of staff, Jamie Pavlot.
Orie: “I never allowed comp time for political work. That was my rule and I was stringent.”
Attorney: “Who was responsible to make sure your directives were complied with.”
Orie: “Jamie Pavlot.”
The defense attorney will continue questioning Orie Tuesday and then later, the prosecution will begin cross-examination.