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August 23, 2011

"Court orders resentencing of ex-Pennsylvania state senator"

The title of this post is the headline of this Reuters piece reporting on a high-profile Third Circuit ruling today in a high-profile corruption case. Here are the details:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the resentencing of a former Pennsylvania state senator, saying the trial judge erred in his sentencing of the once powerful former politician.

Former State Senator Vincent Fumo was sentenced to 55 months in a minimum-security federal prison after he was convicted in March 2009 of 137 charges of fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice.

The Democrat's conviction was upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, which ordered the resentencing.  In an unusual move, prosecutors in May argued that Fumo should be resentenced to up to 27 years in prison, saying U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Buckwalter had been too lenient and did not explain why he sentenced Fumo to below federal sentencing guidelines.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said: "We are pleased with the decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and will prepare for the next step in the process."...

Fumo's lawyers had argued that the sentencing judge committed "no significant procedural error" and noted the court had ordered Fumo to pay a fine of $411,000 and more than $2.3 million in restitution.  His attorneys also added that Buckwalter found Fumo had worked hard for the public, warranting a departure from sentencing guidelines.

The full opinion in US v. Fumo, No. 09-3390 (3d Cir. Aug. 23, 2011) (available here), runs 84 pages, though the last 22-pages is made up by a dissent by Judge Nygaard on the sentencing issues.  I hope to have more comments on these opinions when I get to consume them fully.

August 23, 2011 at 04:53 PM | Permalink


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So are the several findings of abuse of discretion in regard to failure to even find the appropriate guidelines an indication to the district court that 55 months is not an appropriate sentence in this case or will he just make a statement of variance after performing the magic guideline incantations and then the appeals panel will simply accept it?

Looking at the process the district court used I really have to wonder what went on there. Especially how he evidently made contradictory statements about it being a complex scheme and also his making rulings that actually went against the findings of the jury verdict. The process itself almost has the appearance of corruption.

And the aide is probably out already under the original sentence unless she was allowed to remain free pending appeal.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 24, 2011 2:19:40 PM

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