In prison, Fumo sues PAC men

A screen grab from Fumo's website Tuesday.
A screen grab from Fumo's website Tuesday.
Posted: August 30, 2012

VINCE FUMO LOVED to spend OPM - his notorious acronym for "Other People's Money" - but he's not a big fan of letting other people spend his.

The former state senator has filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court alleging that two New Jersey pals who ran his political-action committee "engaged in a scheme to take money from the campaign for their own personal use and benefit" while he's been locked up in Kentucky on 137 counts of conspiracy, fraud and related offenses.

In other words, Fumo's accusing them of what he's doing federal prison time for - engaging in a scheme to take money (in Fumo's case, from taxpayers) for personal use and benefit.

His lawsuit accuses Andrew Cosenza, who was chairman of the Fumo for Senate committee, and his brother, Dominic, who was treasurer, of "self-dealing" and depleting the PAC of more than $100,000 in less than a year.

The PAC remained active, even after Fumo was convicted in 2009, by contributing money to politicians and reimbursing Andrew Cosenza thousands of dollars for travel and other expenses.

In 2010, the PAC paid $17,100 to "International F.S. Management" and "INF Ret. Management" for office expenses and consulting services. Those entities have the same Mount Laurel address as the Cosenzas' company, Cozco Management, which runs the Philly Steak & Gyro stands at Philadelphia International Airport and elsewhere.

In May 2011, Fumo attorney Dennis Cogan told the Inquirer that Fumo had no role in the PAC. But emails that Fumo wrote to Cogan that month, subsequently disclosed by prosecutors, show that Fumo was considering changing the committee's name to "get it under the radar for a while."

"Also, we need to know if it's OK to rename the committee without changing my right to be reimbursed from it," Fumo wrote to Cogan two days before the Inquirer story was published. After reading the story, Fumo chastised Andrew Cosenza for disobeying "specific" orders that Fumo had given him on how to spend the PAC money. "I am PISSED!" Fumo wrote.

"My appeal is coming up on Wednesday and this makes me look like a corrupt crook still in business from prison," Fumo wrote. "It's akin to Gotti running his mob operations from his jail cell. Even Joey Merlino hasn't gotten this kind of f--king adverse press!!!"

Last October, Fumo emailed Andrew Cosenza to say that he was disappointed that Cosenza hadn't raised additional money for the PAC.

The Cosenzas did not return a message from the Daily News Tuesday. Nor did Dion Rassias, the attorney representing Fumo in the lawsuit, or Cogan.

The suit, which lists nearly $450,000 in Fumo for Senate expenditures since 2008 to support the breach of fiduciary duty claim, says that Fumo is "presently a resident of Ashland, Ky., but maintains and will re-establish his residency on a permanent basis in Philadelphia shortly."

Fumo is scheduled for release in 2014.


Contact William Bender at benderw@phillynews.com or 215-854-5255. Follow him on Twitter @wbender99. Read his blog at philly.com/DailyDelco


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