Ex-Pa. senator to be re-sentenced Nov. 9

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 26, 2011 8:44 PM
Ex-Pa. senator to be re-sentenced Nov. 9

Prosecutors will again push for at least a 15-year sentence when former Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Fumo is re-sentenced in his federal corruption case.

Federal prosecutors successfully challenged the 4 1/2-year sentence in the case, leading Sr. U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter to schedule a Nov. 9 do-over.

A jury in 2009 convicted Fumo of defrauding the state Senate, a museum and a nonprofit of millions by using their staff and resources to fund his lavish lifestyle. He had been a wealthy Democratic power broker during his 30-year state Senate career.

An appeals court ruled last month that Buckwalter had ignored more than $1.5 million in losses and made other mistakes in calculating Fumo's sentence.

Prosecutors believe the guideline range for Fumo's fraud is 18 to 21 years.

"Really, nothing has changed," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease said Monday.

Defense lawyer Dennis Cogan will urge Buckwalter to give the same 55-month sentence, but explain his reasoning. Fumo has been left "twisting in the wind" amid the uncertainty, Cogan said.

Fumo, 68, remains in prison in Kentucky and did not attend Monday's scheduling hearing. He has gained weight and grown a beard and long hair while in prison, according to Cogan, who called his client depressed.

Cogan asked that Fumo be allowed to skip the court hearing next month and be sentenced over a video hookup, to avoid what Cogan called the exhausting, circuitous travel on prison planes and buses. It can take weeks to get from Kentucky to Philadelphia on the U.S. Marshals Service's hub system for prisoner transport _ which inmates wryly call "diesel therapy," Cogan said.

Buckwalter, though, said he wanted to sentence Fumo face-to-face.

The judge acknowledged two procedural errors that he does not want to repeat. He said he found it difficult to hear Fumo testify in the ceremonial courtroom, where the high-profile sentencing was held to accommodate more people. And he said he did not want to hand down a sentence at the end of a long day of testimony.

Buckwalter said he may not issue his ruling the day of the hearing.

Lawyers on each side must again submit sentencing memos for the judge to ponder.

Fumo might be moved to a more secure facility if he ends up with more than a decade left to serve, defense lawyers said. He is currently in a minimum-security prison.

"This judge already knows a lot more about Vince Fumo than all of the judges on the 3rd Circuit (Court of Appeals)," Cogan said. "Fifty-five months in jail is no bed of roses."

Co-defendant Ruth Arnao, a Fumo aide who has already served her original one-year sentence, will be re-sentenced Nov. 16.