This is one of those incredibly sensational stories that suits well being made into a made for television movie. The only place I can begin is at the beginning in the early 1970s when two girls from the same affluent neighborhood in the western Pennsylvania town of McCandless became mortal enemies. Or they didn’t. The two women in question are Jane Orie, former Pennsylvania state senator and assistant state attorney general and Melissa Hart former US Representative for the Pennsylvania 4th district. Both are Republicans and both come from very conservative catholic backgrounds.
Orie went to Duquesne for law after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College; Hart went to The University of Pittsburgh Law School after graduating from Washington & Jefferson College. They were both on the fast track in the early 1990s when the call to public service hit them both in very different ways. Hart ran successfully for a seat in the 40th district in the Pennsylvania Senate while Orie was brought into politics by Melissa Hart in 1996 to run for the state Senate seat being vacated in the 28th district. Some political observers in the bucolic suburban conservative village of McCandless see the story quite differently. Press reports state that there had been a feud between the two women that dated so far back into their childhoods that neither of them remember what it was about.
Today things are quite different. Jane Orie, a once hard charging district attorney who specialized in convicting child molesters and child abusers now finds herself a resident of the Cambridge Springs State Correctional Institution in Crawford County. Pennsylvania. Orie was charged with and convicted of fourteen counts of theft of services, forgery and conflict of interest. These charges all came about as the state senator used her legislative staff to help her sister, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, win her seat in 2009. Now, you and I both know that a lawyer with a track record like Jane Orie knew better than to break the rules especially in a state with such bitter divides between wealthy member of the GOP. Melvin has been sentenced to one year of house arrest for her part in accepting the illegal help from the staff of her sister the state Senator.
In western Pennsylvania, there were literally two camps from 2000 on the Orie camp and the Hart camp. The Ories with Joan and Jane leading the charge and brother Jack a prominent lawyer seemed to have the upper hand with a possibility of the Governor’s mansion within the grasp of at least one of the Orie girls. Then the wheels began to come off the Orie political power train in the early spring of 2010. There were first allegations of misconduct by Joan Orie Melvin as far back as 1999 when she sued an anonymous blogger who called himself Grant Street 99. But Joan Orie Melvin wasn’t suing for damages she was suing to find out who the county employee was. The blogger was eventually outed and fired.
So all of this begs a question: If Melissa Hart and Jane Orie were really enemies why the hell would hart advocate so vehemently for Orie to run for State Senate back in 1996? That question is one of the many puzzlements surrounding the decline and family of the Orie Family. One last thing in late January of this year, Melissa Hart was hit by a 17 year old driver who briefly fled the scene of the accident in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Last word I could glean from the terrestrial Internet was that Ms Hart, who is 51 and has never married was recovering nicely.
Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., CS, O.Q.H [Journ.]
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