Government
7:00 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Orie Sentenced to Up to 10 Years in Prison in Corruption Case

Former Pennsylvania Senator Jane Orie has been sentenced to serve between 2 and a half to 10 years in prison. The Republican from McCandless was convicted in March of using her legislative staff to do campaign work, and for forging documents to cover up the criminal activity.

The judge will decide within the next 30 days what monetary penalty Orie must pay. That number could go as high as $2 million in legal fees and restitution to the state.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus argued during the sentencing hearing that Orie deserved incarceration because she showed no remorse and continued to minimize her crimes even when pre-sentencing investigators interviewed her after her conviction.

Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, unsuccessfully argued for home detention or probation. After the sentencing he said he requested lighter penalties because Orie has been punished enough.

"She had to resign, once that verdict came in, from the Senate. Politics had been her entire life. She's been disbarred. She automatically lost her pension and her reputation was damaged pretty much the day she was indicted," he said.

Judge Jeffrey Manning said he took that into account, along with about 100 letters he received in support of Orie's character.

"But we do not earn credits in life for the good we do to weight against our misdeeds. That might well be of value on the final day of judgment, but in this life we must penalize the wrongdoer to set the standard of conduct for the rest of us," said Manning.

The judge said that if it were only the misuse of office staff and ethics violations, a lesser penalty may have been appropriate, but went on to say, "you [Orie] stand convicted of crimes that demean the sanctity of all we do as lawyers."

Orie didn't address the court before her sentencing, and since she was not convicted of a violent crime, she will be eligible for parole after 75% of her minimum sentence is served, or just more than 22 months.

Costopoulos said an appeal would be filed.

"At the very top of our list is whether this district attorney's office should have been the office to prosecute this case versus an independent prosecutor because of the family dispute between the Ories and the Zappalas," he said.

Sheriff's deputies escorted Orie from the courtroom, though when they moved to handcuff her, Judge Manning said that wasn't necessary.

"I just think that it was the human thing to do. She's not a risk to the sheriff's deputies or a risk to run away," Costopoulos said.

She remains in custody, but he said he doesn't know where Orie would be assigned to serve her time. Costopoulos added, "I do believe in her and I will continue to stand by Jane Orie for all time."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.