Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Aide to Sen. Orie testifies she was told to purge files
BY JOE MANDAK, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH -- The chief of staff for former state Sen. Jane Orie has testified the senator and state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, the legislator's sister, both told her to remove political material in files the aide took home in the early days of a corruption investigation.
Jamie Pavlot testified Monday she took the files out of Orie's legislative office on Nov. 1, 2009, because they related to political activity that Orie's state-funded staff had done for the senator and Melvin -- then a Superior Court judge about to be elected to the state's highest court two days later.
"Anything political of mine I want you to pull out of those boxes," Pavlot said Melvin told her, echoing Sen. Orie's words in a three-way call Pavlot said she received at home that Sunday.
Pavlot's testimony was the first revelation in her daylong testimony about political work that Orie's staff allegedly did when Melvin lost a race for the Supreme Court in 2003 and again in 2009 when she won.
Earlier, Pavlot had testified that the former Republican lawmaker told her, "You need to follow that as though I were telling you myself," whenever Melvin or the judge's aide and sister Janine Orie needed her help for campaign work.
Melvin, 56, and Janine Orie, 58, of Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs, are on trial on theft of services, conspiracy and other charges for allegedly misusing Melvin's former Superior Court staff and Sen. Orie's former staff -- both of which were taxpayer-funded -- to campaign for Melvin.
Melvin is suspended because of the charges she faces and Janine Orie is suspended as Melvin's aide.
Jane Orie, 51, is serving 2½ to 10 years in prison and resigned from office after she was convicted last year of using her state-paid staff to work on her own campaigns. Orie was acquitted of charges she used her staff to help Melvin -- despite testimony from Pavlot that was largely repeated Monday at the sisters' trial.
Pavlot testified the investigation began in late October 2009 when an intern, Jennifer Knapp Rioja, went to the Allegheny County District.
Pavlot will be cross-examined today.