Attorney for Orie bristles at sum |

Attorney for Orie bristles at sum

A judge should not force former state Sen. Jane Orie to pay $1.3 million in restitution to cover the legal costs of the corruption investigation that ended her career and could send her to prison, her lawyer said in a court filing Thursday.

Attorney William Costopoulos said a judge should reject the “unprecedented” request by prosecutors in District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.’s office for the reimbursement, which they said would likely have to come in part from Orie’s state pension contributions and campaign funds.

Orie, 50, R-McCandless, is set for sentencing June 4 on 14 convictions for using her staff to do campaign work on state time and using forged documents as evidence in her first trial, which ended in a mistrial because of the doctored documents.

Costopoulos’ filing does not mention $780,000 in restitution prosecutors added earlier this week to Orie’s bill for a total of $2.15 million. Prosecutors say that amount is restitution for state-paid staffers who did political work on state time.

In his filing, Costopoulos wrote that all but $102,000 of the $1.3 million public legal bill went to represent the Pennsylvania Republican Caucus, which hired Philadelphia law firm Conrad O’Brien to represent its interests and produce documents required for the trial, according to the filing.

Costopoulos contends Orie had no control over the law firm’s actions, so she should not be required to pay its fees, including the $102,000.

In a nine-page filing, Costopoulos argues the Senate Republican Caucus is a politically-organized group and not a state agency, meaning a statute that governs reimbursements from public officials convicted of a crime does not apply.

“The commonwealth’s motion here is unprecedented legally and factually and it should be rejected,” he said. “Even if this court finds that Conrad O’Brien represented Sen. Orie personally for a time, the facts show such representation was extremely limited.”

Costopoulos did not return a call seeking comment.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for Zappala, declined to comment.

Costopoulos said Zappala’s request is the “first known attempt” by prosecutors to use a statute in the crimes code to obtain restitution from a convicted state legislator. He said 15 public officials convicted in the “Bonusgate” or “Computergate” prosecutions during the past three years weren’t ordered to pay restitution.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.