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Ex-Pa. State Senator Re-Sentenced To 61 Months

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(File Photo)

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A long-powerful Pennsylvania senator has been re-sentenced to 61 months in prison in a sprawling corruption case, up from 55 months.

Vincent Fumo was convicted of defrauding the state Senate, a neighborhood nonprofit and museum of millions.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter recalculated the sentenced Thursday.

The Philadelphia Democrat faced about 20 years under federal guidelines at his 2009 sentencing, but a judge initially sentenced Fumo to 4½ years.

A federal appeals court threw out the sentence.

The defense asked for a break based on the 68-year-old Fumo’s age and health problems.

Prosecutors sought a guideline sentence of at least 17 years. They say prison emails show he is preparing to leave prison and exact revenge.

Fumo told the judge earlier Thursday that he was not alone in using his senate staff for personal and political chores. He says the practice was “institutionalized” in the Pennsylvania Senate.

“I don’t mean to minimize what I did by saying others did it, but, your honor, it was institutionalized,” Fumo said.

Fumo spent three decades in the state Senate, becoming one of the most powerful lawmakers of the past generation before his fall from grace. Fumo was convicted in 2009 of defrauding the state Senate, a South Philadelphia nonprofit and a seaport museum of millions.

Fumo has served about half of his original 4½-year sentence.

Fumo addressed Buckwalter for about an hour Thursday, asking for leniency as he described the indignities of prison life, even at his minimum-security federal camp in Ashland, Ky. He said he had been strip-searched repeatedly, put in “the hole,” or isolation, the day the appellate ruling made news, and sometimes denied the medicines he takes for anxiety, tremors and other ailments.

The defense wanted Buckwalter to restore the original sentence because of Fumo’s age and health problems, which also include diabetes and kidney disease.

However, federal prosecutors said his health has improved in prison. And they say he is no worse off than many other prisoners his age.

Fumo, a wealthy banker and lawyer, told the judge he has spent $4 million on defense lawyers since the investigation began in late 2004, and nearly $3 million in restitution and fines since his conviction.

“I made money. Unfortunately, I made it just in time to pay for this case,” Fumo said.

He had made about $13 million when he sold a family bank in 2007, and earned $1 million a year bringing clients to a Philadelphia law firm and about $100,000 a year from the senate.

He nonetheless used staff and resources of the Senate and nonprofits for tasks large and small, from spying on rivals to renovating his mansion to driving a car up to Martha’s Vineyard, while he sailed there on a borrowed museum yacht.

In prison emails, Fumo wonders if he’ll have enough money when he gets out to fill the tank — on a yacht.

Fumo, who looks haggard and unkempt after two years in prison, called the original 55-month sentence “no slap on the wrist.”

Prosecutors argued that he lacked remorse, even today, and is plotting revenge on those who crossed him during the five-month trial. In the prison emails they obtained, Fumo calls the jury “dumb” and describes both jurors and the legal system as “corrupt.”

Buckwalter made note of those rants, but also questioned whether federal prosecutors who published excerpts of the emails in court motions should have done so. Prison emails are monitored mainly for security and crime-prevention purposes, he said.

Buckwalter also accused prosecutors of “overcharging” the case in indicting Fumo on 137 fraud, obstruction and tax counts. The jury convicted him of each one. And Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease said the government could have charged thousands of counts had they wanted to, given Fumo’s long-running schemes.

Buckwalter acknowledged the procedural mistakes he made at the July 14, 2009, sentencing hearing, and told prosecutors they were right to appeal the decision.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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