In Pennsylvania, 3 sisters convicted of campaign corruption have marked a once-powerful political family’s sudden fall from grace.
On Thursday, state Supreme Court Justice Jean Orie Melvin and her sister Janine Orie were convicted of campaign corruption charges. A third sister, former state Senator Jane Orie, is already in state prison for political corruption.
The 3 sisters convicted were accused of using state funds to further their political careers, The Associated Press reported. Jane Orie was sentenced last year to 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison for using state-paid staff to run her campaign. Her two sisters were convicted in a spinoff investigation, and also fond guilty of misusing staff.
“It’s all pretty unbelievable,” John Burkoff, a university of Pittsburgh law professor, said of the 3 sisters convicted. “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.”
Prosecutors claimed that the women had staffers write speeches, drive Orie to campaign events, and work at the polls, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Before her fall from grace, Jane Orie was once the highest-ranking elected Republican among the entire Northeast, serving as majority whip in the state Senate. Her sister Melvin was one of seven members of the state’s highest court.
As if having 3 prominent sisters convicted of corruption wasn’t strange enough, the most recent case brought some bizarre revelations. From The Associated Press:
“During the investigation, which centered on the sisters’ emails, prosecutors stumbled onto messages Sen. Orie and Melvin sent to the “angel lady,” a Philadelphia psychic who read her client’s written questions aloud before claiming to receive a whispered answer from an angel.
“The senator and justice sought assurances from the $85-an-hour medium that Zappala’s investigation wouldn’t result in criminal charges.”
The 3 sisters convicted say they were unfairly prosecuted by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., who they say has a politically vendetta against them.