Vince shows his colors, and stays in stripes

    Yesterday’s re-sentencing of convicted State Senator Vince Fumo was almost certainly his last day in court on the corruption case that ended his political career and put him in shackles.

    It was a day rich in emotion and legal combat that ended not far from where it began – with Fumo headed back to prison in Ashland Kentucky for a sentence only six months longer than the one he came with. That despite shocking emails from Fumo’s prison computer files and a prosecutors’ request for a 15-year prison term.

    So much about the day was familiar: Prosecutors John Pease and Robert Zauzmer arguing with passion and an impressive grasp of the facts of the case, once again leaving me in awe of the breathtaking scope of Fumo’s theft (I still can’t get over the bulldozer for his Harrisburg farm).

    And when he spoke, there was Vince being Vince – proud, unrepentant, and self-pitying. Much of his allocution (the formal term for a defendant’s statement at sentencing) dealt in compelling detail with the hardships of prison life.

    But he still doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, and probably didn’t help himself by explaining that he didn’t lie to the trial jury when he gave explanations for charges against him that they found factually wrong. He just had another version of the facts, he said.

    You can read more about the two days of the hearing in my previous posts here and here. And you can hear some voices in the piece I did for radio by playing the audio above.

    The judge allowed reporters to sit in the jury box for the sentencing hearing, and at the lunch break, there happened to be a moment when I came face-to-face with Fumo as a federal marshal led him out in handcuffs and his green jumpsuit.

    He smiled, nodded, and said hello, using my name. For just a moment, I remembered how much fun it was to cover him – to watch him weave his legislative magic, hatch political deals, and, when you could get him on the phone, give more political insight and information in a half an hour than you’d get in a month from most people.

    When Fumo spoke in the afternoon, I was pleased to hear him say that he listens to the radio when he can, and listens to NPR more than anything else.

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