White-Collar Crime

Pa. Lawyer Didn't Pursue Plea Offer, Spent $1M to Cut 5 Months Off Sentence

Offered a suggested deal in a federal corruption case that would, at one point, have required him to plead guilty to one fraud count in exchange for a prison term of no more than five years, Vince Fumo reportedly wound up instead taking the case to trial.

That strategy cost the Philadelphia attorney and former longtime Pennsylvania state senator some $1 million in legal defense fees and resulted in a conviction and a sentence earlier this week that shaved five months off the prison term proposed in the potential plea deal, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. The newspaper’s article relies on unnamed sources.

Defense attorney Dennis Cogan proclaimed victory concerning the sentence his client received, which was perceived by observers as light punishment given the jury’s conviction of Fumo on all of the 137 counts with which he was charged, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fumo, was charged with defrauding the Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, by getting the nonprofit—for which he sought hefty corporate donations—to purchase personal items for him and renovate his Philadelphia district office, ABAJournal.com noted in January.

It was difficult for Fumo to persuade the jury of his innocence because of adverse pretrial publicity promoted by Fumo’s political enemies, Cogan says in a lengthy Inquirer article about the Temple University law grad and former prosecutor.

“This was such a high-profile case, and in the Internet era, with Facebook and Twitter, you can start a revolution, as we know from Iran,” Cogan says.

It isn’t clear whether Fumo will appeal his conviction; 6 Action News, a local ABC affiliate, says federal prosecutors are considering an appeal of his sentence.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.