MARCH 16, 2009
One of the most powerful figures in Pennsylvania politics has been convicted of so many corruption counts that the federal jury forewoman had to break twice for water to complete today’s marathon verdict announcement.
State Senator Vincent Fumo, a 30-year veteran and longtime ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been convicted of 137 counts of corruption for defrauding taxpayers out of more than $3.5 million to help pay for his extravagant lifestyle.
The veteran politician had beaten two previous indictments in his lengthy career but this time federal prosecutors were armed with piles of evidence presented during a five-month trial that culminated with six days of jury deliberations. Fumo was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and filing false tax returns.
In August, one of Fumo’s top aides pleaded guilty to 28 counts of obstruction of justice for following his powerful boss’s orders to destroy incriminating electronic mail sought by federal agents conducting the corruption probe.
The disgraced lawmaker took more than $2 million in Senate resources and another $1.5 million from a nonprofit he established to improve neighborhoods in Philadelphia to help pay for personal items, including a $5.5 mansion in downtown Philadelphia, a farm near Harrisburg and vacation homes in the New Jersey shore and Florida waterfront.
An array of Senate staffers testified in the trial that they regularly did personal work for Fumo on taxpayer time, including running his farm, handling his personal finances, overseeing mansion renovations and even spying on his ex-lover. Fumo faces up to a decade in prison.
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