The hair, the beard. Is that Vince Fumo?

Vince Fumo as he appeared in court yesterday, in a sketch by artist Susan Scharry.
Vince Fumo as he appeared in court yesterday, in a sketch by artist Susan Scharry. (HILLARY PETROZZIELLO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: November 10, 2011

WHEN VINCE FUMO entered a Philadelphia courtroom yesterday for resentencing, he looked every bit the aging con he is.

His hair, more white than gray, was disheveled, and he had grown a beard.

A facial tic seemed more pronounced than it was two years ago.

He wore prison green jumpers with blue sneakers.

He had gained 10 pounds since being incarcerated 26 months ago.

For much of yesterday's proceedings, Fumo sat at the defense table, his head hung, at times looking almost devoid of hope.

The disgraced former senator wasn't resentenced yesterday. U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter is expected to do that today.

Much of yesterday's testimony concerned Fumo's medical condition and whether he was a drug abuser.

Fumo's defense team said it would seek leniency based on his age (68) and medical problems.

Federal prosecutors called two witnesses to try to blunt the defense's case for leniency on age and medical grounds. They contend that that isn't warranted and that Fumo should be sentenced to at least 15 years.

John Manenti, the Bureau of Prisons' northeast region medical director, testified that Fumo suffers from Type 2 diabetes, chronic renal insufficiency, coronary artery disease, hypertension, depression and restless-leg syndrome.

But Manenti also said that a recent health assessment of Fumo showed that the maladies were either "at treatment goal" or "improved" since Fumo entered prison Aug. 31, 2009.

Manenti also testified that lab tests performed shortly after Fumo was jailed did not indicate alcohol or prescription-drug abuse. (Fumo told prison officials on his first day behind bars that he was addicted to Xanax and other prescription drugs.)

Prosecutors have dismissed Fumo's alleged drug abuse as little more than a fraudulent attempt to gain entry into the bureau's residential drug-abuse program, which knocks a year off an inmate's prison sentence upon successful completion of the 500-hour program.

FBI Special Agent Vicki Humphreys testified yesterday that she had reviewed letters sent recently by several of Fumo's doctors to the bureau about Fumo's alleged drug abuse. She said that the letters were inconsistent with those the same doctors presented to the court at Fumo's 2009 sentencing and that they made no mention of substance or alcohol abuse.

The defense produced a list of drugs that had been prescribed for Fumo between January 2006 and February 2007 that numbered more than 1,000 doses of Ambien, Xanax and Darvocet, which they said was evidence of substance abuse.

At one point, while cross-examining Humphreys, defense attorney Dennis Cogan showed her a photograph of an array of pills and bottles.

"This is something you would find in Michael Jackson's house," Cogan said.

Fumo's fiancee, Carolyn Zinni, testified that she had taken the photo and that it depicted a "collection of medicines" she emptied from two medicine cabinets after Fumo left for prison.

"I didn't realize the extent of his addiction," she said.

Fumo, convicted of 137 corruption counts, is being resentenced because the U.S. Court of Appeals here vacated his 55-month sentence in August.

The court said that Buckwalter had made several legal errors during the 2009 sentencing.

Fumo is scheduled for release in August 2013.

Now Buckwalter must decide whether that sentence is still appropriate.

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