The signatures in question.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the Orie mistrial isn’t that signatures were forged, but that they were so BLATANTLY forged.

Internet, someone almost got away with this.

Original signature that was lifted:


Moved to here. Notice the lines in the P and the shape of the J. Notice the distance from the signature line. All identical from one document to the next.

And here, the signature looks slightly different, but again, the P has been messed with, and the fact that you can’t see the “S” on “witness” and that the hanging g or y or whatever from the signature above is cut off, means it was covered with a signature lifted from another place:

They didn’t even bother to line the signature lines up properly.

Who knows what will happen now, but one thing we all know for sure is that whoever did this might be the worst forger forgeist forgifier signature falsifier ever.

Probably has an online business selling “Baby Ruth” autographed baseballs.



  1. Legallypgh(Kathy)
    March 4, 2011 10:17 am

    All I can picture is the Orie sisters sitting at a table at home, like preschoolers, with a glue stick and some scissors, talking about how this is really going to help them.

    Sadly, both sides will now spend years before the Superior Court appealing these issues, and Orie will continue to be a representative of our Commonwealth and get paid by us taxpayers.

    Up next, Councilman Chuck McCullough, who is running for County Executive, and his trial about swindling a 90+ year old lady….

    You can’t make this stuff up!

  2. Noelle
    March 4, 2011 10:35 am

    Fabian lives in Pittsburgh??? Shut UP!

  3. Magnus Patris
    March 4, 2011 10:49 am

    Geez! Have these people never heard of Photoshop!?!

  4. Beatrice
    March 4, 2011 11:25 am

    I just kept thinking…that could have been done so easily in Photoshop. It’s better that it wasn’t so the dishonesty could be so clearly revealed.

  5. Ol'Froth
    March 4, 2011 11:27 am

    Tampering with evidence and forgery are crimes more serious than what the Ories were initally charged with.

    And why do they always look like they’re continually sucking lemons?

  6. Gina
    March 4, 2011 11:32 am

    Holy crap! I put MUCH more time & energy into MY forgeries.

  7. Scott
    March 4, 2011 11:42 am

    After reading the PG article on this debacle this morning, I sent a brief email to both Joe Scarnati and Domenic Pileggi asking for Orie’s resignation. Probably won’t even get read, but I feel better for sending the request.

    I’m a little embarrassed by how much entertainment I’ve gotten from following this trial. I know Steve Stallings, one of the lead prosecuting attorneys on the case. He’s not a guy you want to see across the courtroom if you are on the defense team.


  8. Steverino
    March 4, 2011 11:44 am

    I can’t help it, all I see is that dyed blond hair blowing all over the place when the Orie sisters are on TV!

  9. Pa-pop
    March 4, 2011 12:19 pm

    I loved the judge’s “Ray Charles” line. Now that’s what I call refreshing candor from the bench.

  10. Julie
    March 4, 2011 12:19 pm

    Nothing like hinging your defense on calling the main prosecution witness a liar when it is you that is doing the lying. Oops.

  11. Peg
    March 4, 2011 1:06 pm

    I just knew this would be some funny sh#t and it is. Where is 24 hour Court TV coverage when you really need it? Ginny, can you contact Nancy Grace? Can’t wait for the LMC movie, perhaps starring the Olsen twin’s, to premiere.

  12. fone guy stan
    March 4, 2011 1:19 pm

    New trial date set for April 11.

  13. Boones Farm
    March 4, 2011 7:28 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if the DA had everyone in Orie’s offices take a lie detector to find out who broke the law by forging the signatures? I hope someone named Zappala mulls this over and proceeds. I wonder what the expressions on the Orie Sisters faces would be then?

  14. Ken
    March 4, 2011 8:30 pm

    everytime i see or hear “baby ruth” i think this…

  15. Sheila
    March 5, 2011 12:13 am

    Steve Stallings is not one of the prosecutors- he represented Orie’s chief of staff (who pled in exchange for immunity). Law Claus is head prosecutor- Stallings is strictly defense now.

  16. USCMike
    March 5, 2011 1:28 am

    Is there a possibility of Jamie Pavlot’s lawyer filing suit against the Orie sisters for forgery? Or the DA’s office filing additional charges against the Ories for tampering with evidence?

    I’d love to see them get nailed on the forgery and tampering charges even more than the misuse of state employees time because I think the charges are more serious.

    This is sorta like how Martha Stewart got thrown in prison for lying to the FBI about her stock sales, rather than just paying the fine for trading on insider info. In trying to avoid one charge, she made a more serious error and boom, that got her a trip to the slammer…

    Forget the original charges, let’s go after the forgery charge and get these conniving criminals off the street, not to mention out of Harrisburg!

  17. The Maestro
    March 5, 2011 9:59 am

    As for the Orie sisters. Yeah, I’d party with them.

  18. XTheOwl
    March 5, 2011 12:46 pm

    That whole trench coat solidarity thing is just really creepy too.

  19. LawGod
    March 6, 2011 11:46 am

    Ok, but there is another lesson from the Orie trial debacle. The ham-handed way this forgery was handled also raises several Constitutional questions.
    The prosecution had these documents for at least 4-5 days. They were introduced into evidence. But the issue of the forgery never was mentioned; the DA did not cross examine Orie over this; and Law Claus did not mention it in his closing argument. It seemed as if he didn’t bother to look at the documents until AFTER the trial was over!! When he realized that he screwed up he then went to Judge Manning. Judge Manning, full of his typical over-reaction, and desire to utter a pithy comment, stops a trial, and declares a mistrial when neither side had asked for one.
    What is the likely legal effect of all this:

    1. Jeopardy had clearly attached.
    2. The Commonwealth had ample time to challenge a piece of evidence that it thought was a forgery, or a lie.
    3. The Commonwealth’s lawyers screwed up; ROYALLY.
    4. The Commonwealth had a chance to attack those forged documents during trial, but did not. Either the Commonwealth’s lawyers were utterly inept (because it is obvious the signatures were faked), or they knew of the forgeries, didn’t make an issue during trial for whatever reason and then when they started thinking they were losing after closing arguments, raised the forgery with Judge Manning and let his honor be…well, Judge Manning.
    5. The Commonwealth never gets a Mulligan. It has one shot to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not allow multiple trials, especially not simply because there was lying or forgery going on. If there is, the Commonwealth has what it believes are its best lawyers to deal with that. In this case, those lawyers claim they didn’t find something as clear as the nose on your face during 5 days.
    6. So what is Judge Manning doing stopping a trial because the prosecution screws up? If there is a case for forgery, that is a separate matter, and can be charged separately

    Prediction: There never will be another trial, because trying the Orie sisters again would clearly be double jeopardy. Who is to blame for this? A prosecutor too inept to deal with the changing landscape of a major criminal trial, and therefore did not even read exhibits that attacked the credibility of his major witnesses and a judge who never has quite understood the fact that a referee in a basketball game does not get to shoot and dribble.

  20. interested observer
    March 6, 2011 2:09 pm

    i’m pretty sure that double jeopardy doesn’t apply whe a mistrial is declared. Regarding the prosecution’s failure to catch the forgery earlier, my understanding is that the documents were not produced until the defense portion of the trial. The late production makes me wonder why they weren’t produced during discovery and whether they should have been allowed into evidence at all.

    the fault for the production and introduction of the forgeries lies with the defense, they will be retried and I’d bet on purgery charges as well.

  21. LawGod
    March 6, 2011 5:05 pm

    Double jeopardy attaches once the jury is sworn in. the fact of a mistrial is not going to preclude that. Defendants do not have to produce documents in discovery in a criminal case. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the prosecution had those documents at least 5 days before the trial ended. Having the documents 5 minutes before you close to jury would have been enough to have affected the outcome in this case, IF the prosecutor actually took the time to read them. You put them up for the jury to see, you take your time and show them to jury, and then you ask why someone who didn’t do what she is charged with doing would falsify documents. It makes for a 20 minute closing and it would have been very effective. My bet is no one on the prosecution bothered to look. Inept lawyering. Happens all the time.
    The issue of someone being charged with perjury is different than the effect on this trial. The prosecution blew it, and the Orie will not be able to be retried on these charges, if the Pennsylvania appellate courts follow the law as it stands now.

  22. Pingback: Giving Forgery a Bad Name — Worst Cut and Paste Job Ever? : Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

  23. interested observer
    March 7, 2011 10:21 am

    I disagree, I don’t think a mistrial implicates double jeopardy unless there is egregious prosecutorial misconduct that causes the mistrial. In the Orie case, the misconduct was on the part of the defense. I believe that the Ories will eventually retried on the initial charges and there will be more charges filed against someone regarding the forgeries.

  24. justanobserver
    March 7, 2011 12:29 pm

    @Lawgod – the prosecution did NOT have the documents for “at least 5 days before the trial ended” as you claim. These documents were introduced as evidence when Jane Orie took the stand, which was Monday, Feb. 28. The jury started their deliberations on Wednesday, Mar. 2. That’s quite a bit less time than you are claiming the prosecution had to go over this new information, of which there were hundreds of pages. However, you seem determined to exonerate the Ories.

  25. toni
    March 7, 2011 2:58 pm

    EXCELLENT POST Lawgod. I for one, am sick of the use of mistrials in high profile cases.

    Mike Veon, former House Dem Whip went after the mistrial at least 3 times that I remember. For those who don’t recall… this was the jury who took the unauthorized field trip to the capitol to view the “scene of the crime” and the juror who blogged about it.

    Cyril Wecht’s trial ends in a mistrail after the jury came back to the judge stating they were unable to reach a verdict.

    Now Jane Orie with the forged documents. Forged so badly it looks like a 2 yr old did the cut and paste job.

    I don’t care if your for or against the above named 3, that’s not my point. My point is that it seems to me that all these high profile cases have lawyers actively pursuing (exception would be the Wecht case but if I remember correctly there were noises about juror tampering with that one.)

    Mistrials need to be allowed but it just seems to me that lawyers are trying to force mistrials…talk about wasting tax payers money.

  26. Dan (Not Onorato)
    March 7, 2011 3:15 pm

    You know if Harry Stone was the Judge…Dan Fielding would have gotten it down to $50 and time served

  27. toni
    March 7, 2011 3:38 pm

    interested observer, found this:
    An important exception occurs in criminal cases in the United States. If the court erroneously declares a mistrial, or if prosecutorial misconduct forced the defendant into moving for a mistrial, the constitutional protection against double jeopardy bars any retrial.

    If the defense attorney wants to argue that the prosecution team is dumber than a box of rocks for not finding the forgery, it could be double jeopardy.

    Of course this could then cause a trial over who did the forgery. Now the prosecution would have to argue without a shadow of a doubt that Jane Orie forged the documents. With no evidence except a tampered document and no clear cut forgerer. Plenty of suspects tho.

    Is this the new flavor of the month? The mistrial. If Orie’s innocent, she’ll always have a smudge after her name; if guilty, it’s a miscarriage of justice. No wonder the general public has an eroding confidence in our legal system. It’s not about justice, it’s about who can manuever the chess match. This one ended in a draw.

  28. interested observer
    March 7, 2011 3:49 pm

    I don’t think an appeals court will find that the trial court erroneously declared a mistrial on a csae where an expert determined that the defense offered fraudulent evidence.

    I also don’t think the defense will win on the argument for double jeopardy where the defense argument is that the prosecution engaged in misconduct by not discovering the fraud offered into evidence by the defense quickly enough.

  29. LawGod
    March 7, 2011 4:30 pm

    But the problem is that the defense doesn’t have to show any misconduct.
    It just needs to show that jeopardy attached..which it did. The fact that one side or another introduced bad (or false) evidence does not affect this. Trials are all about one side pointing out that the other side offered bogus evidence. It happens all the time. Here, the Commonwealth had oddles of time to do that. It’s lawyers were too inept to figure that out–even when, as Manning, J, pointed out, “Ray Charles could see it.” If Ray Charles could see it, why does not having 5 days, or 2 days, or heavens, 5 hours suffice. I get documents and arguments sprung on me at trial all the time on way less notice. You adapt; you deal with them.

    So the Commonwealth blew its chance to win, and then asked the judge to bail it out. I know that the alternatives after they were released told the lawyers that it was going to be a not guilty verdict, and I suspect the prosecution got scared.
    Look at it in a normal case. Both sides present their best case. One side screws up and doesn’t point out some of its best evidence. After both sides close and the jury has the case, that side then figures out what it should have done. Under our system that doesn’t give the judge grounds for a mistrial. It just means that one side’s lawyer screwed up. Especially in a CRIMINAL case, where the burden is ALWAYS on the Commonwealth; where the defendant need do nothing, and need show anything at all. In that kind of case, we do not allow the government to keep trying, and clearly do not allow it to challenge evidence it had during the trial, AFTER the trial ends.
    The fact that an expert says the document was forged is a red herring. Of course it was. The question is the effect of that, and it is NOT sufficient to give the Commonwealth a second bite at the apple. The prosecution knows this–it is why it never asked for a mistrial. Remember that. IT NEVER ASKED FOR A MISTRIAL. There is a reason it did not.
    The defense does not have to argue that the prosecution engaged in misconduct. The defense need only point out that it did not want a mistrial; there was no reason that the prosecution could not have used, or commented on the “forged” evidence during its case; and that the judge overstepped his bounds by declaring a mistrial that no one even requested.

    The Orie sisters will not be retried on the substantive charges. Write it down and check back in a few months. I don’t much care about the Orie sisters, and I clearly am not happy about the fact that they will walk. I can’t much stand either of them. BUT they will walk because the Commonwealth was inept, and because a state court judge overreacted.

    Now if there is evidence that THEY created the documents, they can be charged with that crime.

  30. jlgallagheresq
    March 14, 2011 12:07 pm

    Lawgod has it completely incorrect regarding the time that the Prosecution had these documents. When the defense tried to enter them through Jamie Pavlot, she didn’t recognize any of the documents therefore they could not be entered into evidence nor could she be questioned about them. The Senator took the stand 2 weeks later, and authenticated the forged documents and after her testimony they were entered into evidence. The DA did not have these documents until Tuesday once the Senator’s testimony was concluded. Close and charge was on Wednesday. The DA NEVER had all of the documents until end of business Tuesday. So they had one day to look over the defense exhibits and that is when the forgery was discovered. Then Thursday morning it was brought to the attention of the court. So Lawgod should get his facts straight before he predicts the granting of double jeopardy and the time frame of how long the DA had these documents. In fact, at the beginning of the defense case, the DA asked for a copy of all of the exhibits and the defense refused to turn them over, as they are permitted to do. So the DA had only a few hours with the exhibits, not the 4-5 days that Lawgod inaccurately stated.

  31. Mark
    March 30, 2011 1:19 pm

    It’s kind of crazy that scissors and a glue stick can help you put this together in no time.