Allegheny County prosecutors have filed a slew of new charges against the sister of state Sen. Jane Orie, saying she directed an aide to destroy computer files investigators were seeking during a corruption investigation of both women.
A grand jury report also includes several claims that publicly paid judicial workers for current state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin have been doing political work for her for more than two decades.
The 29-page grand jury presentment released today claims Janine Orie -- while an aide to then Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin -- played a key role in working on her sister's 2009 Supreme Court run while on public time.
The presentment said Janine Orie worked on the campaign in the state office; directed other state workers to campaign, often under orders from her two sisters; and when investigators began looking into the work, directed another aide to copy campaign-related computer files off the court computer network, and then destroy them.
It also includes claims from Ms. Melvin's current secretary at the state Supreme Court, Kathy Squires, that she, too, had participated in political work at the judicial office, during 13 years working for her.
That included picking up copies of campaign checks, entering campaign data into judicial computers and issuing thank-you letters to contributors, efforts she said she spent an average of three hours per day on.
By the 2009 campaign that work was given to other staffers, the grand jury presentment says. But when investigators began circling in late 2009 after Ms. Melvin was elected, Janine Orie left Ms. Squires a note, directing her to delete campaign files from the judicial computers.
Another witness, John Degener, Ms. Melvin's current chief law clerk at the Supreme Court, also said Janine Orie directed him to do political work for her sister in 2003, and she directed him to transfer campaign-related files off the judicial computer network in 2005 or 2006.
Janine Orie, 57, was charged with theft of services, misapplication of entrusted property, tampering with evidence and encouraging someone to destroy evidence. No charges have been filed against Supreme Court Justice Melvin.
The last trial of Jane and Janine Orie ended in mistrial and the Allegheny County District Attorney's office is set to try them again in February.
Since the mistrial prosecutors have filed additional charges against the senator and filed new counts including forgery and perjury, claiming she lied about forged documents entered into the record during the first trial.
One of the witnesses in the grand jury report was Lisa Sasinoski, a former clerk to Justice Melvin going back to her years on the Allegheny County Common Pleas bench through an unsuccessful run for Supreme Court in 2003. Ms. Sasinoski claimed political work -- much of it directed by Janine Orie -- happened in Ms. Melvin's courtrooms from 1991-2003.
"Sasinoski testified that during their time as a law clerk with Orie Melvin, she was directed by Janine Orie to do a myriad of political tasks for Orie Melvin. These tasks included: writing political speeches; filling out campaign questionnaires in furtherance of obtaining endorsements from political action committees, traveling with Orie Melvin and attending political functions with the judge during the 2003 campaign year," the presentment said.
The tasks were either directed by Janine Orie or the judge herself, the presentment said.
The judge -- according to the presentment -- had Ms. Sasinoski research opinions to help her win endorsements, and the judge would call Republican committee people statewide while at the office. She also testified that Jane Orie would order court employees to work for her sister at polling places.
Ms. Sasinoski complained about the political work in the office after the 2003 election, and two days later she was fired. She is married to Common Pleas Judge Kevin Sasinoski.