The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
Aug. 18--Casey Melvin, charged with insurance fraud for an accident claim she blamed on being distracted by the corruption trial of her mother -- former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin -- is expected to enter a program for first-time offenders that will ultimately lead to dismissal of her case upon successful completion.
Investigators with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office charged Casey Melvin, 26, of Sharpsburg with insurance fraud in September, claiming she lied about the date of a one-car crash because her insurance policy lapsed a few weeks earlier.
Melvin is scheduled to appear before Common Pleas Judge Robert C. Gallo on Sept. 5, when she is expected to be formally accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Her criminal record will be wiped clean if she completes the program, which generally involves probation.
Neither Melvin nor her attorney could be reached.
Investigators said Melvin was driving her 2011 red Jeep Laredo on March 29, 2012, along Butler Street in Shaler when she struck a utility pole. She told police she "was distracted when leaving the Shaler Plaza," according to the criminal complaint.
Melvin refused medical attention. The vehicle had to be towed.
A Vincentian Academy and Princeton University graduate, Melvin called Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. to renew her policy, which expired on March 10, 2012. The company told her she would not be covered for claims between March 10 and March 30, and that she could not renew the policy without a gap in coverage.
"My family is going through, um, there's a public trial, and I was just so out of it with everything going on," Melvin told a Progressive representative the day of the call, according to a transcript.
Investigators said she called Progressive again on April 4, 2012, and said the accident occurred on March 30. A company representative then processed the claim that day.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. initially tried to hand off Melvin's insurance fraud prosecution to the state attorney general's office to avoid an appearance of conflict because Zappala prosecuted her mother and two aunts. It was ultimately determined that a greater conflict existed with the attorney general's office, for whom Melvin's uncle prosecutes insurance fraud cases, Zappala's office said.
Melvin's mother, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, 58, of Marshall was found guilty in May 2013 of theft of services, conspiracy and misapplication of government funds for using her judicial staff to run her election campaigns in 2003 and 2009. Her sentence -- three years' house arrest, two years probation and $55,000 in fines -- has been suspended while she appeals.
Joan's sister and Casey's aunt, former Sen. Jane Orie, 52, of McCandless is serving 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison for a March 2012 conviction on charges of forgery, conflict of interest and theft of services.
Joan's other sister and Casey's other aunt, Janine Orie, 60, of McCandless, was convicted of helping run Joan's campaign while working as an aide on Jane's state staff.
Janine Orie's first trial in 2011 ended in a mistrial when Jane Orie submitted forged documents. Janine was tried a second time, convicted and sentenced to one year of house arrest for helping her sisters steal public services. Her sentence has been stayed while she appeals based on an argument that she should not have been tried twice because of the double-jeopardy rule.
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