Feds: Fumo appeal just a delay tactic

Posted: August 20, 2009

Federal prosecutors asserted in a court filing yesterday that Vince Fumo's appeal of his conviction and sentence was done solely to delay his reporting to prison.

Fumo was ordered last month to report to the Bureau of Prisons on Aug. 31 to begin serving a 55-month sentence for his conviction last March on federal corruption.

The feds also said yesterday that Fumo had not presented any substantial questions that needed to be reviewed by a U.S. Court of Appeals.

They said that after U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter entered judgment against Fumo on July 23 he had until Aug. 6 to file an appeal, but did not do so.

The government filed an appeal of the sentence Aug. 12, and Fumo filed a cross-appeal two days later.

That sequence of events proved that Fumo had "little faith" in trial issues that he now says raise questions that merit appellate review, prosecutors said.

The feds said that Fumo appealed his conviction and sentence "only as a strategic counterpoint" to the feds' effort to obtain a longer prison sentence for the former state senator.

Citing a 1986 Third Circuit decision, prosecutors said that an issue is substantial only where it is "fairly debatable."

Prosecutors said that there were no such issues in the Fumo case. Fumo mentioned six trial issues in his court filing Monday that he said raised substantial questions for appellate review. (Five of the six issues were previously raised by Fumo's attorneys in court filings seeking a new trial and were denied by Buckwalter in two rulings in June and July.)

The feds said that Fumo received a "fair and exhaustive" trial in which no substantive appellate issues were raised.

Federal judges may grant bail pending appeal only in cases where there is a "substantial question" of law or fact likely to result in reversal, an order for a new trial, a sentence that does not include prison or a reduced prison sentence.

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