Pennsylvania Senator Jane Orie was convicted Tuesday on 14 counts of campaign cooruption including theft, forgery, and conflict of interest for forcing her legislative staff to perform campaign work for herself and her sister.
She was found not guilty of 10 other accounts, including perjury, obstruction of justice and election code violations, according to WTAE.
She was convicted of five felony counts and appeared shaken while the verdict was read, reported the Associated Press.
I can tell you we're disappointed, and there's no positive spin I can put on it, said Orie's defense attorney William Costopoulos to WTAE.
Orie, a 50 year old Republican senator, will likely leave office and lose her state pension. She has not released a statement as of yet but Costopoulos said he believes Orie will give up her 40th District seat.
I know she'll make the right decision, he said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She's always made decisions in the best interest of her constituents.
Allegheny County jurors heard 18 days of testimony and deliberated for five days before agreeing to the mixed verdict.
We have not slept; none of us have slept for four days, four nights, said the lead juror who cried when the verdict was finally read.
It was a grueling, grueling process to do this, he said. These are not clear-cut issues. None of them are.
Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus said the jury sent a message.
Individuals who hold public office hold a public trust, he said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. When they breach that public trust, prosecution will follow.
Orie can face up to five years in prison for each count of theft and misusing her staff. She can spend up to five years each for the ethics violations.
She will be sentenced in May.
Costopoulos is looking to appeal. There were many immutable issues raised, and they will be fully developed, and we'll pick our best ones and take it up, he said to WTAE.
A legal expert told the Associated Press that an appeal had a slim chance of being successful.
Any serious convictions like this are exactly what the prosecution sought, and the senator is now probably going to jail, said University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff to the Associated Press.
Convicted of 14 different counts is a lot. It's a serious judgment against her.
Orie was elected in 2001 in a special election to fill an empty seat and was subsequently reelected three times.
Her sister is Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin who as of now has not been charged. However a third sister, Janine Orie, is likely to stand trial for misusing both the senator's and Melvin's staffs for campaign work in 2003 and 2009.
The investigation began in October 2009 after a University of Pittsburgh intern told the District Attorney that she had seen Orie's staff doing campaign work for Melvin days before her appointment.
Orie attempted to cover her tracks by sneaking political documents out of her office and removing Melvin poll cards from the trash outside her North Hills office.
Orie's first trial in March was declared a mistrial because Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey manning said one document was so obviously fake that even Ray Charles could see it, according to the Associated Press.
Twenty former and current staffers testified against Orie, stating that she ordered them to do campaign work and even offered them comp time. Orie denied these allegations in her testimony, saying any political work done was the fault of her former chief of staff Jamie Pavlot.
District Attorney Stephen Zappala released a statement saying, Today is a sad day for the residents of Allegheny County and more so for the constituents of the 40th Senatorial District.
Orie will have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet until she is sentenced on May 21.