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Fumo trial halted after dizzy spell

January 22, 2009 6:07:04 PM PST
Former state Sen. Vincent Fumo was admitted to the cardiac unit of a hospital Thursday after reporting dizziness and trouble breathing during his corruption trial. Defense attorney Ed Jacobs Jr., who represents Fumo's co-defendant, Ruth Arnao, called for a recess just before 3:15 p.m. after noticing Fumo's condition. His attorney, Dennis Cogan, had been cross-examining FBI agent Vicki Humphreys, who has been on the stand since last week.

A nurse was brought in to evaluate the 65-year-old Fumo, who told U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter that he did not believe he had had a heart attack and did not want to go to the hospital. "I feel better than I did a few minutes ago," he said.

"You didn't look too good," said Buckwalter, who decided to adjourn the trial until Monday.

Just after 4 p.m., paramedics wheeled the former lawmaker out of the courtroom. He was sitting up on a stretcher and taken to a waiting ambulance to be taken to Hahnemann University Hospital.

Fumo was listed in fair condition Friday evening, hospital spokeswoman Coleen A. Cannon said. Fumo had chest pain, a racing heart beat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea, she said.

Fumo has battled health problems in recent months, including a March heart attack and an apparent dizzy spell in June that caused him to collapse on the Senate floor.

Prosecutors had been nearing the end of their case in the trial of Fumo, who is charged with 139 corruption, obstruction and tax charges. Arnao, who ran a South Philadelphia nonprofit group linked to Fumo, is charged with about 45 counts, most related to alleged charity fraud.

Fumo, who left the Senate last year after three decades in office, is a multimillionaire banker and lawyer who beat two previous indictments early in his political career. Authorities dropped vote-fraud charges against him in 1973, and a 1980 conviction in an alleged ghost-worker scheme was eventually overturned.

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