Showing posts with label Fumo Trial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fumo Trial. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Judge Rules Fumo Can Travel Without Advance Approval

By Ralph Cipriano

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter has decided that former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo can travel freely throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey without needing advance approval from his parole officer.

Fumo's lawyer, Dennis Cogan, had filed a motion on June 17th seeking to modify Fumo's travel restrictions. Cogan filed the motion after Fumo's parole officer denied him permission to visit his condo at the Jersey Shore and a 99-acre farm his fiancee owns outside Harrisburg.

Because it's Vince Fumo we're talking about, the government filed a motion in opposition, which was  immediately trumpeted as big news by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The prosecutors who put Fumo away for 61 months wanted to require the defendant to notify his parole officer in advance, as well as get her authorization before he went anywhere while on probation.

But today, Judge Buckwalter issued an order granting the defendant's motion with one stipulation. Every Monday, the judge wrote, Fumo has to supply his probation officer with an itinerary for the week "setting forth where and when he intends to be."

Monday, June 30, 2014

After 11 Years, USA V. Vincent J. Fumo Finally Comes To An End

By Ralph Cipriano

In 2003, the U.S. Marines stormed Baghdad. The space shuttle Columbia exploded, killing seven astronauts. Outkast had the top pop song with Hey Ya!

In Philadelphia that same year, police discovered an electronic bug in the office of Mayor John Street. Donovan McNabb was the quarterback of the Eagles. Jim Thome led the Phillies in home runs with 47.

Also in 2003, the feds began their investigation of state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

On Friday, after 11 years, the long legal saga of the United States of America V. Vincent J. Fumo came to an end.

The feds had 30 days until Friday to file an appeal on the last act in the criminal case -- Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter's May 20th decision to stick Fumo with an extra $359,430 in restitution costs.

The feds, who have already filed two successful appeals in the Fumo case, decided not to appeal a third time. According to Fumo's defense lawyers, it was the end of the criminal case.

"We're all happy for Vince Fumo," said Dennis Cogan, Fumo's defense lawyer. "Enough is enough. He's been through hell."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office could not be reached for comment.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fumo Beats The IRS In Federal Court

By Ralph Cipriano

U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter on Friday struck down an extremely rare "jeopardy assessment" levied by the IRS against former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

In a 63-page memorandum, the judge granted summary judgement to the plaintiff in the case of Vincent J Fumo v. United States of America. Under the jeopardy assessment, which the IRS typically uses to combat money launderers and international fugitives, the IRS had frozen three of Fumo's bank accounts totaling more than $2.7 million.

The judge, however, said the imposition of the jeopardy assessment was "not reasonable" because Fumo, sitting in jail at the time, did not attempt to hide any transactions of property and money to his son and fiancee. Nor did he place any assets "beyond the reach of the government," the judge wrote.

"The jeopardy assessment made against [Fumo] shall be abated and all liens and levies filed pursuant to it shall be released," the judge declared.

"It's wonderful to be entirely vindicated by a court of law." said Mark E. Cedrone, the tax lawyer who represented Fumo. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Judge Rules Fumo Must Pay Another $359,430 In Restitution; Angry Defense Lawyer Compares Prosecutor to King Louis XIV

By Ralph Cipriano

The judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say.

Vince Fumo stood up. He looked tired.

"It's been a long road," the 71-year-old former state senator told Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter.

He talked about his legal ordeal, which began with a federal investigation in 2003. Then came a massive indictment in 2007, followed by a nearly five-month-long trial that ended in 2009 when a jury convicted Fumo on all 137 counts.

"I spent four years in jail," Fumo told the judge who put him there. Fumo talked about the nearly $4 million in fines and restitution that he had to pay the government, plus the additional $4 million he spent on legal fees.

Now, Fumo told the judge, it's ten years later, "And I still don't know what my sentence is."

The judge agreed with Fumo that it had been an unusually long road, longer than anyone could have imagined. But what can you do, the judge seemed to be saying, when the government keeps appealing my rulings, and winning those appeals?

Then, acting on the government's latest successful appeal, the judge announced he was clipping Fumo for another $359,430 in restitution.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Judge Buckwalter Hears Oral Arguments In Fumo V. USA

By Ralph Cipriano

On the 14th floor of the federal courthouse on Tuesday, Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter was refereeing another fight between the U.S. government and former Pennsylvania state Senator Vincent J. Fumo.

Buckwalter was the judge who presided over the United States of America v. Vincent J. Fumo. The five-month trial  ended on March 16, 2009 with the former state senator being convicted on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return.

Yesterday, Buckwalter was hearing oral arguments in the case of Vincent J. Fumo v. United States of America. In the sequel, Fumo is challenging the IRS over the propriety of the agency hitting him with an extremely rare "jeopardy assessment." Fumo also alleges that the U.S. Attorney's office colluded with the IRS to seek revenge on him.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vince Fumo Takes His Case To The U.S. Supreme Court

By Ralph Cipriano

Vince Fumo may have already been convicted and done his time, but that hasn't stopped the former state senator from taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Peter Goldberger, an appeals lawyer representing Fumo, filed a 42-page petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, requesting that it review lower court rulings involving Fumo.

The petition has three goals. First, Goldberger seeks to overturn Fumo's 2009 conviction on 137 counts because the trial judge, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, refused to hold a hearing to determine whether the jurors who convicted Fumo had been exposed to prejudicial information.

Second, Goldberger asks the Supreme Court to return $3 million in restitution to Fumo, contending that the restitution award by Judge Buckwalter violated Fumo's constitutional rights. Finally, Goldberger contends that Judge Buckwalter didn't have the authority to make Fumo pay $366,279 in interest, as part of that restitution award of $3.8 million.

The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court is the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary. The nation's highest court gets about 8,000 such petitions every year for writs of certiorari, and every year, the court agrees to hear about 80 of these cases.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vince Fumo And Daughter Duke It Out In Orphans' Court

Allison Fumo, Vincent J. Fumo, and Carolyn Zinni
By Ralph Cipriano

Lawyers for Allison Fumo filed a memorandum in Orphans' Court Monday, charging that a $2.5 million trust set up by her father, former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo, has been "mismanaged by cronies and acolytes."

Because of that alleged mismanagement, Allison Fumo's lawyers are asking Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe to take $611,158 of that trust fund and deposit it in a separate bank account so that Vince Fumo's 23-year-old daughter can manage her own trust.

Friday, July 12, 2013

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

By Ralph Cipriano

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.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vince Fumo Sues Feds, Alleging Collusion Between U.S. Attorney's Office And IRS

By Ralph Cipriano

Former state Senator Vincent J. Fumo sued the federal government today, alleging that the U.S. Attorney's office colluded with the IRS to seek revenge on him.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Fumo's lawyer, Mark E. Cedrone, charged that the IRS had no "plausible, legitimate justification supporting its decision to employ the draconian and infrequently used jeopardy assessment process" against his client, Vince Fumo.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fumo Case May Be Headed Back To Judge Buckwalter

By Ralph Cipriano

For a third time in the past five years, the case of the United States of America v. Vincent J. Fumo may be headed back to the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter.

Buckwalter is the judge who back in 2009 originally sentenced Fumo to 55 months in jail and ordered him to pay $2.7 million in fines and restitution after a federal jury convicted the former state senator on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

But then the government filed two successful appeals with the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fumo's Lawyers Challenge IRS, Seek U.S. Appeals Court Hearing

By Ralph Cipriano
FCI-Ashland [Kentucky]

While Vince Fumo continues to reside in a federal prison in Kentucky, his lawyers back home in Philadelphia are busy on two fronts.

Tax lawyer Mark E. Cedrone has filed a challenge to the IRS's recent imposition of a "jeopardy assessment" against the former state senator for $2.9 million, a penalty that Cedrone describes in his challenge as "completely frivolous" and lacking "any reasonable basis whatsoever."

Meanwhile, criminal appeals lawyer Peter Goldberger has filed a petition for a rehearing, asking all the judges on the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider a Feb. 4 opinion that vacated the restitution portion of a sentence previously imposed on Fumo by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter.

At issue is whether Fumo should have to pay another $783,284 in restitution to the federal government.

Fumo's lawyers maintain he's already paid back $3.8 million in restitution and fines to the feds; the prosecutors who put him away in 2009 on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice want Fumo to pony up another $783,284.

A panel of three appeals court judges sided with the prosecutors, striking down Judge Buckwalter's previous order on restitution, and asking Buckwalter to take another crack at it.

Goldberger wants all 15 Third Circuit appeals court judges to reconsider the matter because, he argues, the panel of three judges who heard the case last December did not understand the facts of the case, in part because of a "misstatement of the facts" made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

IRS Visits Vince Fumo In Prison To Deliver A Bill for $2.9 Million

By Ralph Cipriano

For Vince Fumo, the news just keeps getting worse.

The former state senator still resides in a federal prison in Kentucky where he's serving a 61-month sentence for his 2009 conviction on 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. 

Since late January, after doctors discovered three blockages in his heart, the 69-year-old Fumo has been walking around with a zipper in his chest after undergoing triple bypass surgery and dealing with depression, which doctors have told him is a frequent side affect of the surgery.

In February, a federal appeals court sided with the prosecutors who put Fumo away, ruling that the former state senator should give back even more money. The feds, who have already extracted $3.8 million in restitution and fines from Fumo, are seeking an additional $783,264.

On March 21, Fumo got a visit in prison from an IRS agent bearing a notice from Guadalupe N. Ortiz, acting area director of the agency's Philadelphia office. The IRS was formally notifying Fumo that he was being hit with an extremely rare "notice of jeopardy assessment and levy," which, including tax, interest and penalties, amounts to a bill for a total of $2.9 million.

In an interview, Mark E. Cedrone, Fumo's tax lawyer, termed the jeopardy assessment "a draconian infrequently-used weapon of mass destruction" employed by the IRS in only a fraction of cases. And the jeopardy assessment is not just a bill.

"They IRS has served levies on various financial institutions resulting in the freezing of significant assets" belonging to his client, Cedrone said.

Cedrone said the government's case is without merit, because the IRS is in no danger of failing to collect on any debts it may be owed. Fumo is still listed as a co-owner on five of the six transferred properties that the IRS has raised questions about, Cedrone said. So the IRS remains protected.

Not that the government deserves any more of his client's money, Cedrone said. While the IRS is seeking $2.9 million, Cedrone argues that under the law the amount due the IRS is "zip." That's what he plans to argue in appeals to the IRS, and possibly in a federal lawsuit as well.

"Where I come from, they call this piling on," said Cedrone, a South Philly guy.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Prosecutors In Never-Ending Fumo Case Back In Court Seeking To Extract Another $783,264 From Vince

By Ralph Cipriano

The feds aren't done with Vince Fumo, not by a long shot.

The former state senator, now doing his 40th consecutive month in a Kentucky prison, has already paid $411,000 in fines and $3,435,548 in restitution, for a total of $3.8 million.

But prosecutors were back in the U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday morning Dec. 14th seeking to extract from Fumo another $783,264 in restitution.

"Mr. Fumo is the one who took all the money," argued Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer to a panel of three appellate judges for the Third Circuit. "This is someone who has all this money."


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