PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was sentenced Tuesday after being found guilty in a corruption trial earlier this year.
According to KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes, Orie Melvin was sentenced to three years of house arrest, while her sister, Janine Orie, was sentenced to one year of house arrest.
The only way either can leave their home is to go to church.
Judge Lester Nauhaus also required Joan Orie Melvin to have a picture taken by the county photographer, which will be sent to each judge in Pennsylvania along with an apology to each judge for her actions.
In court, family members offered emotional pleas that Orie Melvin and her sister had been through enough.
The prosecutor argued that both should serve jail time.
Judge Nauhaus told Orie Melvin prior to sentencing that she knew what she was doing was wrong and knew it was wrong to make others do political work on state time.
At that point, most people in the courtroom thought that they were going to indeed get jail time, but they did not.
Former state Sen. Jane Orie, their sister, is now serving 2 1/2 to 10 years in jail for similar crimes.
What was the difference in the sentencing?
Somebody close to this case, said the difference is, the forgeries and what is considered fraud upon the court and that they were handled by two different judges.
Greg Melvin, former Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s husband says the political disputes between the Orie family and the family of Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala’s family were at the root of the prosecution.
“The democrats spent $3.5 million to defeat her at the election. They didn’t do it so they spent another three-and-a-half-million on these trials. And a jury of almost all democrats,” he said.
He was also critical of Judge Lester Nauhaus.
Nauhaus said Melvin’s actions as a sitting judge causing others to do what they knew were wrong was “arrogant.”
“The arrogant judge is the one in the courthouse,” said Melvin, referring to Nauhaus.
And even though neither Joan Orie Melvin or her sister Janine Orie will serve jail time, he was unhappy with the terms of house arrest.
“Jerry Sandusky was allowed to go to the mail box. He is saying by not allowing Janine and Joan to go out of the house to get the mail that they’re more dangerous than Jerry Sandusky? Are you kidding me? Are you serious?” asked Greg Melvin.
He also told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Judge Nauhaus and Judge Jeffrey Manning, who handled Jane Orie’s case were “corrupt.”
In February, a jury found Orie Melvin and her sister guilty on all but one count in a campaign corruption trial.
Both were found guilty on all counts except official oppression. On that charge, the jury was hung.
The guilty verdicts include theft of services and criminal conspiracy.
The sisters are charged with misusing Melvin’s former Superior Court staff to help her campaign for the state’s highest court in 2003 and 2009.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala also commented on the sentencing Tuesday, saying in a statement:
“Personal attacks are routine in public corruption prosecutions, I accept that. Both convicted felons, Melvin and Orie, manufactured their story and personal attacks only after it was clear that their crimes had been reported to then Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett’s Office.
More importantly, Melvin’s failure to apologize for her criminal conduct to the citizens of this commonwealth and to the members of the judiciary, to which she has brought great dishonor, reflects the arrogance of which Judge Nauhaus spoke so forcefully.
As to Melvin’s statement accusing Judge Nauhaus of being corrupt, unless Judge Nauhaus wants to revisit sentencing, a jury having spoken to this matter and Judge Nauhaus having imposed sentence, I consider this matter closed.”
Janine Orie was an aide to the judge then and Allegheny County prosecutors say she helped organize that illegal campaign work — as well as other allegedly illegal work done by the state-funded staff of a third sister, then-state Sen. Jane Orie.
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