A look back at Vince Fumo's five-month trial

    Former state Senator Vincent Fumo could face more than ten years in prison for his conviction on 137 counts of fraud and obstruction of justice. The trial lasted almost five months, included 1,300 exhibits introduced by federal prosecutors, and testimony from more than 100 witnesses, including Governor Ed Rendell. Here’s a look back at the trial.

    Former state Senator Vincent Fumo could face more than ten years in prison for his conviction on 137 counts of fraud and obstruction of justice. The trial lasted almost five months, included 1,300 exhibits introduced by federal prosecutors, and testimony from more than 100 witnesses, including Governor Ed Rendell. Here’s a look back at the trial.

    Transcript:
    The trial opened October 22 with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease telling the jury the case was about “greed, power and a profound sense of entitlement.”

    Pease: “You’re gonna see a trail of money, a trail of thievery and that trail leads only one place and that’s right here into this courtroom. “

    The charges included defrauding the Independence Seaport Museum, and a south Philadelphia nonprofit the senator created to clean city streets. The government also charged Fumo with using senate staffers as personal servants, having them do everything from housecleaning to campaign work.

    The trial took an even more personal turn when Fumo’s former girlfriend Dorothy Egrie-Wilcox described their yachting vacations on boats provided by the Independence Seaport Museum.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer asked Egrie-Wilcox about how Fumo paid for some of their dinners at high-end restaurants.

    Zauzmer: “Are you familiar with the term ‘opm?’ ”
    Egrie-Wilcox: “Yes, i first heard it from Vince. It means other people’s money. He used it quite a bit. When we went out to dinner, he goes, ‘let’s just use opm.'”

    One of the few witnesses called by the defense was Governor Rendell who told the jury that Fumo did, in fact, work twenty-four seven. But on cross examination by Assistant U.S .attorney John Pease, the governor acknowledged that even successful, hard-working lawmakers must obey the law.

    Pease: “When you’re elected as a lawmaker the public expects you to follow the law no matter how hard you work is that correct?
    Rendell: “No question, there are no exceptions for effectiveness and no exception for people who spend a lot of time on their jobs, the rules are the rules.”

    Then came Fumo himself. Fumo chronicled his rise to power in the senate, telling the jury that the more power a legislator accumulates, the more he gets done.  He said his influence was directly intertwined with helping others get elected.

    Fumo: “You elect candidates who you hope when they’re elected will help you in return to carry out your agenda. They’re IOU’s. You could elect somebody and then have them stab you in the back the next day, ‘et tu Brute,’ but it is still a way of accumulating power.”

    Fumo was also charged with multiple counts of obstruction of justice. He testified that his former attorneys told him it was legal to delete emails and wipe hard drives as long as he or his senate office was not served a subpoena.

    But in a dramatic courtroom moment, Fumo’s longtime friend and former attorney Richard Sprague denied giving that advice while under questioning by Assistant U.S. attorney Robert Zauzmer.

    Zauzmer: “And what we’ve heard is that your reply was and I believe this is a quote: ‘if nothings been subpoenaed, you don’t have to have it, you can do what you want.’  Is that something you said to mister Fumo?
    Sprague: “I never said that at all.”

    Defense attorney Dennis Cogan accused the prosecution of “demonizing” Vince Fumo.

    Cogan told the jury Fumo never acted with “intent” to deceive or defraud.

    After five days of deliberations, the case took an odd turn. The defense filed motions Sunday seeking a mistrial after discovering that one of the jurors had posted comments about the trial on social networking websites. The judge denied the motion and an hour later the jury returned a verdict of “guilty” on all counts. The judge set bail at $2 million.

    Defense attorneys say they will appeal.

    Listen:
    Click on the play button below or right click on this link and choose “Save Link As” to download.

    [audio: reports20090317fumotrial.mp3]

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