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October 19, 2011

Feds want a lot more prison time for corrupt state pol Vincent Fumo

Sentencing briefs for the upcoming resentencing of former Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo were filed yesterday.  Comically, as detailed below, the headlines from various news sources reporting on the filings indicate quite different sentences purportedly being sought by federal prosecutors:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer here, "Prosecutors want Fumo jailed for 15 years"

From Newsworks here, "Prosecutors: Fumo should get at least 17 years for 'astonishing' corruption"

From the Philadelphia Daily News here, "Feds: Fumo should serve up to 21 years"

From Reuters here, "Former Pa. politician should serve up to 27 years: prosecutors"

Here is how the first of these pieces gets started:

Prosecutors Tuesday urged a federal judge to resentence former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo to at least 15 years in prison, more than triple his current penalty, to properly punish him for "detestable" crimes that cost taxpayers and charities $4 million.

But in a rival filing, Fumo's defense team urged U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter to simply reinstate the controversial 55-month sentence he imposed two years ago.  They said Buckwalter should again grant Fumo a break for what the lawyers called his "extraordinary level" of public service, as well as for private acts of generosity.  His attorneys described the 68-year-old Fumo as in poor health, facing the "real chance" of dying in prison, yet still mentoring fellow inmates.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ordered Buckwalter to resentence Fumo.  Without specifying what new sentence should be imposed, it said Buckwalter's legal reasoning had been shot through with errors, including a badly underestimated figure for the cost of Fumo's crimes.  Buckwalter is to decide after a resentencing hearing Nov. 9.

October 19, 2011 at 09:12 AM | Permalink

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Comments

If the same (or a basically similar) sentence is again imposed I could see this case being the one SCOTUS uses to put some of the teeth you desire into substantive reasonableness review. Buckwalter needs to be somewhat careful, having already been found to have committed several abuses of discretion.

I am actually somewhat surprised that such a finding (the abuse of discretion) isn't enough to send the case back to a different judge, but that seems a step that appeals courts are extraordinarily hesitant to order.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 19, 2011 10:30:14 AM

Soronel --

"I am actually somewhat surprised that such a finding (the abuse of discretion) isn't enough to send the case back to a different judge, but that seems a step that appeals courts are extraordinarily hesitant to order."

The problem is that they all belong to the same country club.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 19, 2011 11:26:29 AM

Bill, by golly you do have some humor left in you after all....HAve a nice day...

Posted by: Abe | Oct 19, 2011 3:03:34 PM

Abe --

When you've seen as many defense allocutions as I have, you perforce develop a sense of humor.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 20, 2011 5:38:32 PM

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