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3rd Circuit Wants Vincent Fumo to Pay More Restitution

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 13, 2013 3:02 PM

Disgraced politician Vincent Fumo returned to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in December to challenge court-ordered restitution in his fraud case, and may end up paying even more restitution.

Maybe that challenge wasn't such a good idea?

A unanimous jury convicted Fumo in 2009 of conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice, and tax violations for using state employees and consultants for political and personal purposes. In the process, Fumo defrauded the state and two non-profit groups of $3.5 million. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter ordered Fumo to serve only 55 months.

Prosecutors won a resentencing challenge in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2011, when the appellate court ruled that Judge Buckwalter erred by not offering an explanation of the process he used to determine the light sentence. Prosecutors had pushed for the 15-year minimum sentence under the sentencing guidelines.

A federal judge added 6 months to Fumo's sentence in November 2011, increasing the former Pennsylvania state senator's total sentence to 61 months. The judge also ordered Fumo to pay an additional $1.1 million in restitution, in addition to the $2.8 million is has already paid.

But that still isn't enough for the Third Circuit.

In an unpublished opinion released last week, the three judge appellate panel held that the district judge had abused his discretion under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act when he evenly split the amount owed to the Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods between Fumo and his aide, Ruth Arnao, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The panel stopped shy of instructing the district court to double Fumo's restitution.

The judges noted, "The District Court would -- yet again -- abuse its discretion if it failed either: (1) to order Fumo to pay all of the Citizens Alliance restitution; or (2) at the very least, to apportion Fumo's share of the restitution in such a way as to reflect the clearly disproportionate culpability and economic circumstances of the two co-Defendants and to ensure that, to the extent possible, Citizens Alliance itself will be made whole."

The Post-Gazette reports that Fumo has an $11.3 million fortune. Between legal fees and court-ordered restitution, Fumo will be a little less liquid this year.

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