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May 25, 2011
Third Circuit to hear feds' complaints about 55-month sentence for corrupt state politician
As effectively reported in this new piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which is headlined "Prosecutors to argue for longer Fumo jail term," the Third Circuit hears argument today in a high-profile sentencing appeal by prosecutors. Here are the essentials:
Federal prosecutors will appear before a three-judge panel Wednesday to argue that former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, nearly midway through a 55-month sentence for corruption, should be resentenced to a longer term. Once one of the most influential politicians in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Fumo was convicted in 2009 on 137 counts of corruption and fraud. Prosecutors want a sentence that meets federal guidelines, which call for a much longer term of 21 to 27 years....
Fumo was sentenced after the jury found that he had turned his Senate staff into personal servants and political minions, doing errands for him on state time. The jury also found that he had defrauded a pair of nonprofit organizations. After Fumo realized the FBI was on the trail, he tried to obstruct the probe. The wrongdoings cost taxpayers and the nonprofit groups more than $2 million.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter said the 55-month term was justified by Fumo's public service, 259 letters asking for leniency and extolling Fumo's work, and the nature of Fumo's offenses.
"It's not murder. It's not robbery. It's not even assault," Buckwalter said of Fumo's wrongdoings. "It's nothing violent. It's not the selling of a political office," Buckwalter said at Fumo's sentencing hearing.
His decision produced an outcry, and federal prosecutors are hoping the Third Circuit will send the case back for resentencing. Meanwhile, Fumo is asking for a new trial. The three-judge panel will decide both issues. "It is likely impossible to identify a defendant in recent years who stole over $2 million, abused a position of public trust, and obstructed justice in the process who received a sentence anything like Fumo's," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer wrote in the government's appeal....
In their court filings, the defense attorneys argue that there were "no significant" errors in Buckwalter's sentencing and that the cost to taxpayers of Fumo's fraud was just below $2.5 million. A greater financial loss, as prosecutors insist occurred, would have likely meant a longer sentence.
Related posts concerning Fumo sentencing and appeal:
- State senator Fumo gets below-guideline sentence of 55-months imprisonment on corruption charges
- Comparing white-collar apples and drug dealing oranges at sentencing
- "Feds seek to appeal 'unreasonable' Fumo sentence"
- Continued buzzing about the (soft?) sentence given to Fumo
- High-profile below-guideline political corruption sentence headed to Third Circuit
- An amusing spat in the Third Circuit over a not-very-brief sentencing brief
- Feds make case to Third Circuit that corruption sentence too low for state senator
UPDATE: As detailed in this Philadelphia Inquirer piece, it appears that at least two judges on the Third Circuit panel indicatyed at oral argument that "the sentencing of the disgraced politician in 2009 was rife with serious procedural errors."
May 25, 2011 at 09:51 AM | Permalink
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i guess letters to the judge can help...
Posted by: = | May 25, 2011 10:12:00 AM