PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Prosecutors say State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin will face corruption charges related to the alleged use of her court staff for campaign work.
KDKA’s Harold Hayes reports from the courthouse that Orie Melvin is facing charges of theft of services, criminal conspiracy, misapplication of entrusted property, official oppression and criminal solicitation.
The grand jury presentment is 100 pages long, and it led to those charges against the sitting Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.
The presentment concludes: “…not only was Justice Orie Melvin directly and knowingly involved in using state paid staffers from both the judicial and legislative branches of Pennsylvania government in her political campaign activities, but it also appears that she was aided by Janine and Jane Orie.”
The grand jury also pointed to the testimony of a number of people in the judicial system, including a former law clerk of Justice Melvin’s, which helped lead to the charges.
That particular witness is currently the wife of a sitting Allegheny County Court judge.
Melvin was set to be arraigned on the charges this afternoon. She arrived at city court just before 2 p.m. with her brother, Jack.
She notified the court today that she is recusing herself from cases as a result of the charges; however, in a letter that her lawyer sent to the Supreme Court, it says she is not resigning and denies the allegations.
Justice Melvin read a statement after the arraignment calling charges “politically motivated.”
Prosecutor Lawrence Claus tells reporters Melvin’s political claims are baseless.
Court officials say this is only the second time a sitting judge has faced criminal charges.
Orie Melvin’s sister, State Sen. Jane Orie, was convicted of 14 corruption charges back in March. She is awaiting sentencing.
Orie was found guilty of two counts each of theft of services, conflict of interest, and forgery, in addition to seven counts of tampering with evidence and one count of criminal conspiracy.
She was acquitted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Another sister, Janine, is also awaiting trial on charges.
Orie Found Guilty On 14 Of 24 Counts (3/26/12)
Calls Begin For State Sen. Jane Orie’s Resignation (3/27/12)
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