Fumo confidant charged with obstructing justice

Fumo friends Ruth Arnao and Mitch Rubin, in a March 2009 photo. She is serving time; he was charged yesterday with obstruction of justice.
Fumo friends Ruth Arnao and Mitch Rubin, in a March 2009 photo. She is serving time; he was charged yesterday with obstruction of justice.
Posted: March 11, 2010

Mitchell Rubin was once part of former state Sen. Vince Fumo's inner circle and among his closest advisers, but now Rubin faces criminal charges stemming from that relationship.

The U.S. attorney yesterday charged him with one count of obstruction of justice in connection with statements he made to federal investigators about a $150,000 Senate contract that Fumo gave him.

Rubin, 58, was charged by criminal information, a process that often indicates that a defendant intends to plead guilty.

No court date has been set for Rubin's arraignment. The Daily News was unable to reach him yesterday for comment.

Both Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease and Rubin's co-counsel, Barry Gross, a former federal prosecutor, declined to comment on the matter.

Rubin, who owns B & R Services, a Philadelphia business that serves court papers, is also the former chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and husband of Ruth Arnao. Arnao and Fumo were convicted by a federal jury last March of multiple counts of fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses, and are in prison.

The charging document said Rubin voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by federal agents about his Senate contract during the Fumo investigation.

The state Senate paid Rubin $150,000 between 1999 and 2004, allegedly to provide advice to Fumo on legislation and constituent matters.

The information filed yesterday in federal court said that on March 23, 2006, Rubin withheld "material facts and other information" from investigators and "failed to fully and honestly respond to questions" about the contract and the nature of Rubin's relationship with Fumo and the work he did in exchange for the contract.

During Fumo's trial, FBI Special Agent Vicki Humphreys testified that there was no written work produced by Rubin under the contract. Fumo's defense contended that Rubin had given advice directly to Fumo in private conversations.

The contract was canceled by Fumo in 2004, prosecutors said, after Fumo became aware that he was under federal investigation.

Two of the mail-fraud counts on which Fumo was convicted were for invoices in 2002 and 2003 related to Rubin's Senate contract.

Charges had been expected for some time against Rubin.

Rubin was personally handed a "target letter" by Humphreys at a post-trial hearing for Fumo on March 19, 2009, informing him that he could face criminal charges.

On March 21, Rubin informed Gov. Rendell by letter that he was taking an unpaid leave from the turnpike commission to deal with unspecified personal matters.

Two days later, Rendell, after reviewing Fumo trial transcripts and testimony regarding Rubin, and discussing the case with prosecutors, removed Rubin from the commission. (At the time, Rubin had served on the commission for 11 years, the last six as its chairman.)

Rubin and his wife were among Fumo's closest friends and vacationed with him in Martha's Vineyard and at the Jersey Shore.

Arnao, 53, was formerly a top aide to Fumo and later executive director of Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, a nonprofit that she and Fumo were found to have looted of $1.5 million. Arnao is serving a sentence of a year and a day at a federal prison camp for women near Lexington, Ky., and is to be released on July 14, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Fumo, 66, is serving a 55-month sentence at a federal prison in Ashland, Ky., and is slated for release in August 2013.

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