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Culture of corruption alert: Pennsylvania Democrat convicted on 137 counts

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 16, 2009 03:31 PM

Huge outcome in the Vincent Fumo federal corruption trial in Pennsylvania today. He’s an unhinged Democrat and slimeball former state senator. And he’s headed to the Graybar Hotel:

Former State Sen. Vincent Fumo was convicted of all 137 counts against him today as his marathon federal corruption trial ended in a stunning victory for prosecutors.

The jury also found co-defendant Ruth Arnao guilty of all 45 counts against her.

After a 30-minute hearing this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter agreed to let Fumo and Arnao remain free pending sentencing although he ordered them to post bail of $2 million and $500,000, respectively, by Wednesday.

For decades, Fumo was one of Philly’s most powerful Democrats. And one of the craziest. I wrote about him in 2005 when he melted down during a legislative battle and screamed “faggot” at his political opponents. Good riddance:

The 12 jurors filed in five minutes later and Buckwalter asked the audience for quiet, explaining that jury forewoman Karen White was never asked to have to deliver this type of news before such a large audience.

White then began the 11-minute process of announcing the verdict on each of the 141 counts spread over the 18-page form charging Fumo and Arnao variously with counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and filing false tax returns.

By count 65, White’s voice began to cloud from speaking in the hot courtroom and she asked for water before continuing. She had more water at count 99. The monotonous repetition of guilty verdicts tripped White only once, causing her to announce a guilty verdict for Fumo on a count in which only Arnao was charged.

Fumo was charged with conspiring to defraud the state Senate by using employees for personal and political-campaign work on state time.

He also was charged with defrauding the South Philadelphia nonprofit, Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, by getting it to pay for thousands of tools, consumer goods and other items.

Arnao, a former aide to Fumo who headed Citizens’ Alliance, was charged in that conspiracy.

Fumo also was charged with defrauding the Independence Seaport Museum by getting free yacht cruises.

He and Arnao also were accused of conspiring to obstruct FBI and IRS investigation.

Fumo, 65, a senator since 1978, had been one of the most powerful Democrats in Philadelphia and in Harrisburg. He chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and also influenced elections for City Council, judgeships and the state legislature.

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