Pennsylvania Republican State Senator Jane Orie of McCandless Township, Allegheny County and her sister Janine Orie surrendered this morning to face charges of theft of service and other counts. An indictment handed up by an Allegheny County grand jury charges Senator Orie and her sister for allegedly using the senator's staff to do campaign work on behalf of a third sister, Joan Orie Melvin in her 2009 successful campaign for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Janine Orie is an aide to Justice Orie Melvin.
Jane and Janine Orie, along with their brother John Orie, who served as their attorney at this morning's arraignment, denied the charges...claiming they are the result of a "political witch hunt" by District Attorney Stephen Zappala. Senator Orie says she's fighting political corruption particularly in the gambling industry. She claims she was targeted in this indictment because the district attorney's father, Stephen Zappala, Sr., is the chairman of the Pennsylvania Casino Association...and a former State Supreme Court Justice.
The investigation began when Jennifer Knapp Rioja, a former intern in Orie's office, alleged that Orie was using her office staff to do campaign work for her sister, Joan Orie Melvin.