Friday, July 12, 2013

In Orphans' Court Allie Fumo Seeks To Dump "Dr. Barbie"

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Dr. Anthony Repici was Vince Fumo's personal physician for 25 years. He's also taken care of Fumo's children.

"I've treated all three of them over the years," the doctor testified today about the Fumo kids in Philadelphia Orphans' Court.

Dr. Repici seemed especially fond of Allie Fumo, the former state senator's youngest daughter, now 23.

"Allison called me Dr. Barbie," Repici testified. "I used to bring her Barbie dolls" when he visited the Fumos. "She was an adorable child who would run up to me and say, 'Dr. Barbie, Dr. Barbie,'" Repici recalled.

Donald Foster, a lawyer representing Allie Fumo, told the doctor that despite buying his client 26 Barbie dolls, Allie Fumo wasn't going along with her father's wishes that Dr. Repici serve as trustee of a $2.5 million trust fund that lists Allie Fumo as a beneficiary.

"The beneficiary doesn't want you to serve as trustee," Foster told Repici.

"I've never heard that; she never said that to me," Repici responded.

"She does not want you to serve as her trustee," Foster repeated. Foster recalled that on the witness stand Tuesday, Allie Fumo told the court, "I don't trust my father, unfortunately."

Allison Fumo feels the same way about her father's buddies, Foster told the startled doctor, who told the court he had been friends with Vince Fumo for more than 50 years.

"She did not trust anybody who was as close to her father as you are," Foster said. "That was her testimony."

Fumo set up the $2.5 million trust fund in 2006, for the benefit of Allie, and her brother, Vincent E. Fumo II. Left out of the trust fund was Nicole, Fumo's oldest daughter, whom he is estranged from. Nicole's husband, Christian Marrone, was a key prosecution witness against Fumo when he was convicted in 2009 on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and filing a false tax return. 

The latest Fumo family feud is now playing out in Philadelphia Orphans' Court, where Allie Fumo sued her father last year, seeking to dissolve the trust fund, and dump Samuel Bennett, a former trustee appointed by her father.

Complicating the plot is Samuel Bennett's relationship to Vince Fumo's current fiancee, Carolyn Zinni. Bennett, a maintenance worker with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission who doesn't have a college degree, is Zinni's brother-in-law.

Once, Vincent E. Fumo II and Allie Fumo welcomed Carolyn Zinni to the Fumo family with open arms. Now, they are feuding. Carolyn Zinni, the owner of a dress shop, sat in Orphans' Court silently watching the proceedings. She was prepared to testify, but was not called as a witness.

Allie Fumo (left), Vince Fumo and Carolyn Zinni
Walter Weir, Bennett's lawyer, spoke in court about how Bennett resigned more than a month ago as a trustee. "He was hounded by Allison's lawyers, and dragged over the coals" during an all-day deposition, Weir said.

After Bennett resigned as a trustee, Vince Fumo, Bennett and Carolyn Zinni all asked Dr. Repici to take Bennett's place, Repici testified. Fumo wrote Repici a letter from jail, saying, "He was having some kind of problem and that I was the only one he could trust," Repici said.

Besides being a doctor, Repici is also a lawyer. He thought he had a good relationship with Allie Fumo.

"I didn't think she would be against it," Repici testified about him being appointed as trustee.

Missing from the courtroom was the plaintiff in the case, Allie Fumo. She was one of four people subpoenaed by Fumo's lawyers who didn't show up in Courtroom 414 at City Hall. The others who were subpoenaed and didn't show included Vincent E. Fumo, Jane Scaccetti -- Allie Fumo's mother and Vince Fumo's ex-wife -- and Sylvia DiBona. DiBona has been described in court as Jane Scaccetti's best friend and the woman that Allie Fumo has asked the judge to appoint as trustee of the trust fund.

Thomas A. Leonard, a lawyer representing Vince Fumo, said that he repeatedly tried to serve Vincent E. Fumo II with a subpoena, but "All four attempts failed."Regarding the other three people who were subpoenaed, "They're not here," Leonard complained.

"You have to give reasonable notice," countered Bill Heyman, another lawyer representing Allie Fumo. Heyman told the judge in the case that Vince Fumo's lawyers were out of line. Not only did they serve four subpoenas less than 24 hours before today's hearing was supposed to begin, but they also subpoenaed countless documents.

"They asked us to bring in tons of documents  in the middle of trial," Heyman complained to the judge. "They had months to ask for these things and they never did."

Heyman added that any communication between Allie Fumo and her mother, an accountant, "would be privileged."He asked Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe to grant a motion to quash all the last-minute subpoenas.

Leonard, representing Fumo, pressed on, arguing to the judge that the hearings over the trust fund had descended into "an attempt to assassinate Senator Fumo."

But the judge disagreed, saying, "The motion to quash is granted."

Not to be outdone rhetorically, Weir, Samuel Bennett's lawyer, compared the trust fund case to the "King Lear Syndrome." He was referring to the Shakespearian monarch who descended into madness after he divided his estate among three daughters, based on who flattered him the most.

"If the case is going to turn on Senator Fumo," Weir argued, why not wait until the lead character can be here to testify.

The small crowd in Courtroom 414, where reporters outnumbered spectators, undoubtedly thought that was a great idea. But the judge has repeatedly denied requests to delay the proceedings until next month, when Vince Fumo is scheduled to be released from jail.

The original $2.5 million trust fund was depleted in 2009, when Vince Fumo asked his kids if he could take a $1.4 million loan out on that trust fund. At the time, Fumo had to pay $2.7 million to the feds in restitution and fines.

Allie and Vincent E. Fumo II graciously went along with that request, Heyman told the judge. "It was supposed to be a three-year loan, originally due in 2013."

But then the people Vince Fumo appointed to oversee the trust fund made some changes in the terms of the loan.

"We've seen massive changes in the note," Heyman complained. That repayment date was changed to 2015. The interest rate was lowered from the original 5.0 percent to 4.5, and finally, to 2.38 percent. The loan also changed from a balloon loan to an amortized loan over 20 years, due in 2040.

"This is the type of thing that a daughter should never have to go through," Heyman said. "Allison Fumo for good reason does not trust her father."

Next up was Timothy Holman, representing Thomas Myers, a carpenter and longtime Vince Fumo friend who is president of the Fumo Family Limited Partnership, the parent company of the trust fund. Myers also happens to be Allie Fumo's godfather.

"Thankfully for my client, I guess, we didn't really hear the character attacks against Mr. Myers that Vincent and Allison Fumo were willing to unleash on their father during this proceeding," Holman told the judge. "But it's clear that Allison is unhappy with some decisions made by her godfather, Tommy Myers."

"Despite the apparent belief on the part of Allison and her lawyers that everyone even remotely connected to Senator Fumo is a mindless stooge, I respectfully submit that a review of the evidence presented confirms that my client doesn't fit that alleged mold,"Holman said.

"He [Myers] is a friend of every member of the family, and Allison is his godchild," Holman said. He said when Allie and Vincent E. Fumo wanted to sue their father for violating the terms of the loan, Myers's advice to both was to go see their father in prison.

"Vincent and Allie said, No, I don't want to go see him," Holman complained. "Their father's sitting in a federal prison. Talk about kicking a man, their own father, when he's down."

And how did Vince Fumo default on the terms of his $1.4 million loan, Holman asked. Why Vince Fumo transferred to his son ownership of a 30-room mansion  on Green Street in the Art Museum section of Philadelphia. The son currently is listed as a 50 percent owner of the property along with his father. When Vince Fumo dies, his son inherits the mansion, Holman said. But according to the terms of the loan, Vince Fumo could not compromise the deed to the Green Street property, because it was collateral for the $1.4 million loan.

The Green Street mansion "is a very valuable piece of real estate," Holman said. "Although young Vincent protested that he had not requested to be added to the deed, he admitted that he neither rejected the gift by his father nor asked to be taken off the deed."

Holman told the judge that Tommy Myers was smart not to take the Fumo kids' advice and rush out and sue their father, and squander more trust fund assets on another court battle.

"If Tommy Myers sued Vince Fumo, you think he's gonna lie down?" Holman asked. "My guy, Tommy Myers, he looks smarter all the time."

Holman said besides the $1.4 million loan, the assets of the trust fund included $612,473.

In closing, Holman urged the judge to read all the emails and letters Vince Fumo sent out regarding his daughter and her trust fund. Those letters include the "rantings of someone who's been in prison for four years," Holman said, but those emails and letters also show "the soft side of Vince Fumo in regard to his daughter."

The judge gave both sides until July 29 to submit legal briefs, so he could decide on the matter.

After court was adjourned, Heyman was asked about Allie Fumo, and why she wasn't in the courtroom.

"It was very, very difficult to sue her father," Heyman said. Coming back to court today was "something she didn't want to do or need to do."

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