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Feds seek Fumo property to make up for fraud

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Former state Senator Vincent Fumo is fighting the government’s attempts to have him forfeit more than $4 million. At a hearing today in federal court, an expert in forfeiture proceedings told the judge the law does not apply to Fumo’s crimes.

Forfeiture is different from restitution.  Attorney David Smith is one of a few experts in forfeiture, a rare proceeding in criminal court that seeks to return assets gained from fraudulent acts.

Smith says the government is confusing forfeiture with restitution.  Restitution compensates victims.

Smith: “None of the statutes say that. That you can get forfeiture for losses caused to a victim. You have to show that the defendant obtained some property.  And that’s the problem with this case.  They can’t show, with some minor exceptions, that Mr. Fumo obtained any property as a result of these offenses.”

The government argues that the dollar equivalent of the fraud committed by Fumo, which ranges from overpayments to senate employees to free trips on yachts, should be forfeited.

Fumo’s sentencing hearing was set for July 13. Until then, he remains free on bail.

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