Orie penalties may be $2.15 million |

Orie penalties may be $2.15 million

Phillip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
State Sen. Jane Orie leaves the Allegheny County Courthouse on Monday, March 26, 2012, after being found guilty of seven felonies and seven misdemeanors.

Allegheny County prosecutors added $780,000 this week to the growing amount they say former state Sen. Jane Orie could be forced to repay the state and said they likely will go after her state pension contributions and campaign funds.

The figure does not include the $1.37 million of taxpayer-funded legal costs related to the investigation and representation of the Senate Republican Caucus and Orie, 50. Prosecutors said in previous filings that they may ask the judge to impose that amount as well, which could put the total restitution at $2.15 million.

Legal experts said that while Orie’s bill likely will be high, prosecutors probably won’t get everything they’re asking for.

“The value of the services is really a debatable sort of thing. It’s hard to know exactly what the state was deprived of,” said University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris. “The other side will also come up with a number, and it can’t be zero because she’s been convicted. It’s a question of where the judge strikes the balance.”

Orie, R-McCandless, faces sentencing June 4 on her 14 convictions for using her staff to do campaign work on state time and introducing forged documents during her first trial.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus laid out possible financial penalties for Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning to consider in the 68-page memorandum prosecutors filed on Tuesday. Claus also wrote that prosecutors are eyeing Orie’s state pension fund contributions — about $90,000 — and her campaign fund, which contains more than $100,000.

Claus contends that the $112,000 Orie used from her campaign account to help pay for her defense, including $100,000 to defense attorney William Costopoulos, is against the law and the remaining money should be seized as part of restitution.

Claus also detailed sentencing guidelines for each of Orie’s 14 convictions. According to the filing, under Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines in the standard range Orie could face a sentence as light as probation or a prison term up to 94 months, or almost eight years.

Manning could deviate to a harsher penalty if he chooses. The maximum amount of time Orie could face is 55 years behind bars, according to the prosecution filing.

Costopoulos did not return a call for comment.

Prosecutors arrived at the $780,000 figure by calculating the monetary value of the labor that Orie’s staffers did for her campaign and then multiplied that amount by three, for which state law allows, prosecutors wrote in the filing.

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