Fumo appeals to U.S. Supreme Court

JESSICA GRIFFIN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Vince Fumo , seen exiting federal court in 2008, is under house arrest in Spring Garden until his sentence ends.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Vince Fumo , seen exiting federal court in 2008, is under house arrest in Spring Garden until his sentence ends.
Posted: September 06, 2013

THE VINCE FUMO legal saga is marching on, possibly to its biggest stage yet.

The former state senator, who is under house arrest in Spring Garden after leaving federal prison last month, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his 2009 conviction, arguing in part that the jurors saw media reports of evidence excluded from the trial and may have been biased against him.

A date with the Supreme Court is an unlikely next chapter for Fumo's legal battle - the justices accept only a fraction of the appeal petitions they receive - but it would be a fitting one, given the drama that has surrounded the downfall of one of Philly's most powerful politicians.

The trial court and an appeals court already rejected the tainted-jury argument, but Fumo attorney Peter Goldberger wrote in his filing that the courts had a responsibility to look into the matter further to ensure Fumo's Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.

"In addition to coverage in traditional print and broadcast media, there was widespread coverage by new media, including 'live blogging' direct from the courtroom," Goldberger wrote in his filing.

Fumo, a South Philly Democrat and longtime political power broker, was convicted of 137 counts of corruption, including defrauding the state Senate and local nonprofits. He paid $3.8 million in fines and restitution along with his prison sentence, which he served in a Kentucky federal prison.

Journalist Ralph Cipriano, who was writing for Philadelphia magazine at the time, interviewed jurors who said they had learned information about Fumo that was deemed irrelevant to the case by U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter. That information included the fact that Fumo had previously been convicted (which was later overturned) of corruption charges - a fact that was kept out of the 2009 trial.

Fumo, 70, is living in his mansion in the Spring Garden area until his sentence ends Feb. 2.

His monthslong trial in 2009 had followed an investigation that dated back to 2004. He was resentenced after his first punishment was deemed too lenient, and he's up for another resentencing soon.

Meanwhile, Fumo is in a separate legal battle with his children over a family trust set up for them.

To top things off, the IRS is after Fumo for a $2.9 million bill it delivered to him in prison.


On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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