Stiffer sentence sought for Fumo

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia will hear arguments Wednesday afternoon on the sentence of imprisoned former state Sen. Vincent Fumo. Prosecutors say a district court judge was too lenient in sending Fumo to jail for four and a half years.

The U.S. Attorney’s office calls the corruption detailed in Fumo’s case “breathtaking.” In 2009, a jury convicted the former power-broker of 137 counts of fraud and obstruction of justice. District Court Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced him to 55 months, well below the federal guidelines.

Now prosecutors are taking the unusual step of asking the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate Fumo’s sentence and order a new sentencing hearing.

Stephanos Bibas, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says it’s a case that’s gotten a lot of attention.

“Other politicians will notice, voters will notice, district judges if they get away with this kind of departure, may feel emboldened to do more of it in the future,” said Bibas. “And so they decided it was worth expending the resources in a way that they don’t do very often.”

In addition to fighting the government’s appeal of his sentence, Fumo is seeking a new trial. He was convicted of defrauding the state Senate, a South Philadelphia nonprofit and a museum of millions of dollars

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