Lawyer: Ex-Pa. Sen. Fumo's trial to resume Monday

January 24, 2009 12:49:44 PM PST
Former state Sen. Vincent Fumo was to be discharged Saturday from a hospital where he spent two nights in the cardiac unit after falling ill during his corruption trial. The long-serving Philadelphia Democrat is expected to return to the federal courthouse Monday for the resumption of his four-month trial, his lawyer said. The jury is expected to get the case in the next few weeks.

Fumo, 65, who suffered a heart attack in March, experienced chest pain, dizziness and other symptoms in court Thursday afternoon and left the courthouse on a stretcher. He was to be released Saturday from Hahnemann University Hospital, the hospital said in a statement.

"There are medical issues, but it doesn't matter, we're going to proceed," defense lawyer Dennis Cogan told The Associated Press on Saturday. "It won't interfere with the case in any way, and it won't interfere with the trial strategy."

Prosecutors are nearly finished with their three-month parade of witnesses, and the defense could start putting on its case by Tuesday. Cogan would not disclose whether Fumo will testify and also declined to detail Fumo's medical condition.

The first defense witnesses will include Senate employees who will testify about work done by Mitchell Rubin, the husband of co-defendant Ruth Arnao, Cogan said.

Prosecutors charge that Fumo defrauded the Senate by awarding Mitchell and others lucrative contracts in exchange for little or no work. Mitchell is not charged in the case, but has come to court each day to support his wife.

In all, Fumo is charged with defrauding the state Senate, the Independence Seaport Museum and a South Philadelphia charity run by Arnao of more than $3.5 million.

Fumo - whose high-profile, 30-year Senate career ended in November - has looked pale and powerless at times during the trial. He acknowledged as much in brief remarks to a newspaper earlier this month.

"It takes a phenomenal toll emotionally and physically, day in and day out," Fumo told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

His health problems in recent months have also included an apparent dizzy spell in June that caused him to collapse on the Senate floor.

But Cogan said Fumo was "feeling OK" when the two spoke on Saturday.

"I spoke with his doctor yesterday, too, and the bottom line is that we'll be there Monday prepared to proceed," Cogan said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease said prosecutors also expect the trial to resume as scheduled.

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