A new sentence has been issued: 61 months, which is only six months longer than Fumo’s original sentence.
“I’ll never understand Philadelphia politics. Not in my life,” said Judge Ronald Buckwalter after listening to Fumo speak for more than an hour.
Finally addressing Buckwalter at the end of his two-day re-sentencing hearing, Fumo spoke with far more energy and clarity than he did in 2009, when his voice was weak and trembling.
But Fumo displayed little remorse, insisting he didn’t mean to break the law, that others in Harrisburg were doing the same things he was, and he didn’t lie to the trial jury.
Fumo apologized for his disheveled appearance and his baggy prison jump suit. He said his family had brought him civilian clothes, but the federal marshals have a policy that they allow a prisoner to wear a suit only if he’s appearing before a jury.
Some of the more memorable moments from Fumo’s remarks:
On his state of mind “I’m tired, I’m depressed. All I want is peace, I’m much older today that I was two and half years ago when I stood before you.”
On the prison emails in which he called the jury dumb and corrupt: “I knew they (prison authorities) were reading them. ..but your honor I never dreamed they would have been published, ever. And those emails express the full gamut of my emotions.. I apologize (to jurors and others he trashed), but I never meant to say ‘I call you this and I’d like the world to know about it.’ They were meant for the persons they were sent to.”
On his use of state resources for political ends: “I don’t mean to minimize what I did by saying others did it. But your honor, it was institutionalized.”
On prosecutors contention that Fumo lied to the jury about his crimes: “Every time I conflicted with their view of what they (prosecutors) believed the facts were, it wasn’t a dispute, it was perjury.”
When Fumo finished, Buckwalter had a question of his own.
“I don’t understand, because you know my background – I’m from conservative Lancaster County, Republican all my life,” Buckwalter said. “I don’t understand why Philadelphia politicians don’t think some of this stuff is wrong. And apparently you don’t. For example, isn’t it wrong to have an investigator go out and investigate a girlfriend with state money? And why isn’t it wrong for your secretary to do personal work.?
In response, Fumo said he never knew the investigator was using state funds to tail his girlfriend. And he said one day an assistant saw him balancing his checkbook and offered to do it for him so he could do other work.
Buckwalter will re-sentence Fumo this afternoon.
The shocking emails Fumo sent from prison finally came up at the sentencing hearing. Defense attorney Dennis Cogan said he wished Fumo had expressed himself differently when he described the jury in the case as “dumb and corrupt.”
But Cogan said prosecutors invaded Fumo’s privacy and sought to inflame public opinion by excerpting the emails in a public court filing.
Judge Buckwalter then weighed in on Fumo’s emails, particularly the remarks about the jury.
“That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. You can’t defend him on that,” Buckwalter said.
“It was embarrassing to read about some of his personal matters…I didn’t particularly like that,” Buckwalter said. “I don’t know why they (prosecutors) chose to do that, but they did it. It hasn’t changed my opinion of Fumo’s character, which is not that high anyway.”
Next: Fumo addresses the court.
Fumo’s defense attorney Dennis Cogan told Judge Buckwalter that the media had created a vengeful atmosphere in the Fumo case, hoping to bring pressure for a harsh sentence.
“The power of the press is just that- powerful,” Cogan said. “It starts a conversation that leads to a herd mentality.”
He said that long before the trial, prosecutors offered Fumo a deal of a maximum of five years in prison if he would plead guilty to some charges.’
Now, Cogan said, prosecutors want to see that “Vince Fumo leaves prison only in a coffin.”
As he finished his closing argument, Assistant US Attorney John Pease asked Buckwalter to give Fumo a 15-year prison term. Fumo is 68.
Vince Fumo’s disheveled appearance in court for his re-sentencing hearing is no accident, prosecutor John Pease charged this morning.
“He’s still a manipulator,” Pease said. “He’s got five thousand dollar suits in his closet back in Green Street, and he wants to come into this court and look like the Unabomber….it’s a fraud and it’s a lie.”
At that point, defense attorney Dennis Cogan rose.
“Your honor, we had other clothes for him, but the marshall’s…”
Judge Ronald Buckwalter interrupted.
“I don’t care a damn bit about the clothes,” Buckwalter said. “I don’t care what the guy wears…that has nothing to do with sentencing. Let’s get to some substantive stuff.”
Pease argued that Fumo had tried to lie his way into a prison drug treatment program to get a shortened sentence.
“How dare this man come into this court and try to deceive you about this problem that never existed,” Pease said. “This is a lie and it’s a fraud.
Judge Buckwalter indicated at one point he’s sympathetic to the defense argument that Fumo’s poor health is a reason for a sentencing break.
“It’s unusual l to have that many (conditions)..that’s a lot of illness, a lot of physical disability, as I view it,” Buckwalter said.
Sentencing guidelines call for a minimum prison term of 17 years. Defense attorneys will argue that the 55-month sentence Fumo got two years ago should be affirmed.