Former Pa. politician should serve up to 27 years: prosecutors

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2011 7:13 PM
Former Pa. politician should serve up to 27 years: prosecutors

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Former Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Fumo should spend up to 27 years in prison for his conviction on corruption charges, prosecutors said on Tuesday in a recommendation for resentencing the once-powerful politician.

Fumo, 68, is serving a 55-month sentence in federal prison for his conviction in March 2009 on 137 charges of fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice.

However, a federal appeals court in August ordered his resentencing, saying the trial judge erred.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Buckwalter erred when he calculated the financial loss stemming from Fumo's fraud, which can affect the term of a sentence.

In a court filing on Tuesday, prosecutors urged the federal court to resentence Fumo to as much as 27 years in prison.

"The corruption exposed in this case was astonishing," the government said in the filing, adding that the original sentence "provoked an unprecedented and nearly unanimous storm of public outrage."

With the resentencing, the people of Pennsylvania "will learn whether a powerful official is or is not above the law, and what price is to be paid for corrupt conduct and obstruction of lawful authority," it said.

The resentencing date has been set for November 8.

In August, the Appeals Court said Fumo, a wealthy longtime Democratic powerbroker first elected to the senate in 1978, had been driven to acquire even more wealth and often professed to confidants a philosophy that one should only spend "other people's money," which he referred to as "OPM."

Fumo's attorneys have argued the sentencing judge did not commit errors. They also have argued that Buckwalter found Fumo worked hard for the public, warranting a departure from sentencing guidelines.

Attorneys for Fumo could not be reached on Tuesday.

Fumo is serving his sentence at a minimum-security federal penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky.

In an earlier recommendation in May, prosecutors also said Fumo should get as much as a 27-year sentence.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)