Charges may follow suspected forgeries in Orie trial

    A legal expert is predicting charges will be filed in connection with allegedly forged documents presented as evidence in Pennsylvania Sen, Jane Orie’s corruption trial.

    A jury was in its first full day of deliberations, when prosecutors brought the possibly phony signatures to Judge Jeffrey Manning’s attention. Manning declared a mistrial, telling jurors a “fraud [had] been perpetrated.” He went on to call the documents “deceitful, dishonest, [and] despicable.”

    Someone in Orie’s camp allegedly pasted former Orie Chief of Staff Jamie Pavlot’s signature onto memos detailing standards for travel reimbursement, comp time, and the barring of campaign work within the office. Pavlot testified she had never seen the documents; Orie’s lawyer, Bill Costopoulos, ridiculed her for that during his closing argument.

    University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkoff, who’s been following the case, said he’s confident the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office will investigate. “There are lots of possibilities with respect to fraud, or tampering of evidence, or other kinds of obstruction of justice,” he said. “What they need to know, if they can, is to find out two things: one, who did this? And two, who else knew about it?”

    A spokesman for the DA’s office declined to comment, citing a gag order surrounding the case. Burkoff went on to call the alleged forgeries “stunning,” saying, “Not only do you have something that looks like it is criminal. But it looks like it is stupid criminality, as well. This is pretty amazing. It’s like it’s out of the movies.”

    Orie’s retrial has been rescheduled for April 11. That date will likely be pushed back, since Costopoulos is already promising to appeal the decision, on the grounds of double jeopardy laws.

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