Three political sisters in Pa. convicted of corruption
PITTSBURGH – The story has more irony than a Greek tragedy. Three sisters from a devoutly Catholic family have seen their personal and political careers ruined by a scandal that began with, of all things, a letter to some nuns.
Thursday’s conviction of suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin along with her aide and sister, Janine Orie, on campaign corruption charges mean they might join a third sister – former state Sen. Jane Orie – in state prison. No sentencing date has been set.
The former senator was sentenced last year to 2? to 10 years for using her state-paid staff to run her campaigns, though she was acquitted of having them campaign for Melvin, then a lower appellate court judge, who was running for the Supreme Court in 2003 and 2009. Joan Orie Melvin and Janine Orie were convicted in a spinoff investigation and found guilty of similarly misusing Melvin’s former staff and the senator’s.
Even before the convictions, their careers – and the family from which they sprang – were extraordinary.
Dr. John Orie, now 90, and his late wife, Jean, raised nine children including five attorneys, Joan and Jane among them; two cardiologists; a teacher; and a human resources manager, Janine, who worked for her sister Joan Orie Melvin in the lower Superior Court before moving up with her to the Supreme Court.
“It’s all pretty unbelievable,” said John Burkoff, a university of Pittsburgh law professor who has closely followed the cases. “Whatever you thought about the Orie sisters, whether you liked or didn’t like them, you have to look at all of this as tragic.”