So there I was Friday morning, in an elevator in the federal court building with John Pease and Robert Zauzmer, the two prosecutors in the Vince Fumo corruption case; Vicky Humphreys and Kathleen McAfee, the two lead FBI agents on the case, and Associated Press reporter Maryclaire Dale.
Down the hall were Fumo’s attorneys, Peter Goldberger and Dennis Cogan.
Before I knew it, it just came out. “Vince always brings us together,” I said.
More than three years after one of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians of the 20th century went to prison, lawyers, agents and journalists gathered in another courtroom for another hearing on just how much former state Sen. Vince Fumo should suffer for his crimes.
The venue was the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel heard arguments on prosecutors’ effort to increase the $3.5 million restitution Fumo already has been required to pay by another $800,000.
The number represents the value of goods and services provided to Fumo by the community organization, Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, which Fumo controlled.
Fumo’s attorney Goldberger summarized his argument to me afterward.
“If you look at the big picture, you can see that Sen. Fumo has been severely punished,” Goldberger said. “He’s still in prison. His prison sentence was extended. He’s been ordered to pay back millions of dollars that he never took personally. That’s enough. Enough is enough.”
Prosecutors declined to speak on tape, but told the appellate panel the $800,000 represents the value of goods and services Fumo took illegally from the nonprofit, and if the restitution isn’t ordered, he gets to keep what he has stolen.
The court is expected to to rule in the next few months, but the restitution appeal isn’t Fumo’s only legal battle at the moment.
His daughter, Allison, has hired an attorney and gone to court to to prevent Fumo from taking action that might harm her interests in a trust he set up for her. The Inquirer’s Craig McCoy was at the initial hearing on this last week. Read his report here.
Meanwhile, Fumo remains in prison in Kentucky. How’s he doing?
“He’s not doing that well, but he’s OK,” Goldberger said. “He’ll be out in less than a year, and he’s not going back into politics. He’s not going to be rich like he used to be. He’s not going to be the most powerful man in Harrisburg he arguably once was, but he’s all right.”
Fumo is due to be transferred to a halfway house in August.