Vince Fumo denies cover-up

62nd day of trial
February 17, 2009 4:46:42 PM PST
There was more courtroom drama Tuesday on the 62nd day of the Vince Fumo corruption trial. Once again, the spotlight was squarely on the defendant.

At one point he lashed out at federal investigators, claiming he's on trial because of a partisan, political, prosecution orchestrated by the Bush White House.

Fumo denied he instructed his staff to cover their tracks as the FBI closed in. But, the prosecutor showed him a flurry of emails, instructing staffers to have their computers and blackberries wiped. Fumo denies it was a cover-up.

Courtroom audio tapes:
Prosecutor: The fact is that you had your senate employee, Mr. Luchko, going over to Citizens Alliance's office where a subpoena had in fact been served, wiping the hard drive of the computer there.

Fumo: I did not, no, I did not know that they went there to do that.

Fumo testified that he had a long standing policy directing staff to delete emails after reading them. He says he had a longstanding distrust of federal investigators, long before he was under investigation.

He blamed his troubles on the Bush White House and Justice Department.

Courtroom audio tapes:
Fumo: I was a target because I was the most prominent Democrat in Pennsylvania. I raised the most money in the nation.

Prosecutor: You were, you were ah.

Fumo: We're talking about Karl Rove here. We're talking Alberto Gonzalez. Who asked about me at the White House, specifically me.

Fumo once again acknowledged that he accepted gifts and perks from Citizens Alliance, the South Philadelphia charity he founded. That included $63,000 worth of tools and other merchandise. He also acknowledged he took free trips on yachts owned by the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. But, he didn't want anyone to know about it, and didn't think it was reportable income.

He says he stopped taking the yacht trips at a time the FBI investigation was heating up.

Courtroom audio tapes:
Fumo: The last thing I ever wanted to do was go near that boat again.

Fumo says he felt free to delete emails as the FBI closed in because his lawyer told him he didn't have to save anything that wasn't subpoenaed. That lawyer, Richard Sprague, is expected to be called as a rebuttal witness later this week.

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