Appeal possible in Fumo case

July 15, 2009 4:23:31 PM PDT
The Justice Department is considering whether to appeal yesterday's sentence of Vince Fumo to 55 months in jail, a sentence many people are calling much too lenient. Myrna Devoren was one of the jurors who convicted Vince Fumo.

"I'm baffled with this sentencing," Devoren said.

Devoren and the other jurors gave five and a half months of their lives to the trial.

They convicted Fumo on all 137 counts.

She says she respects Judge Ronald Buckwalter, but expected him to stay closer to the sentencing guidelines.

"What puzzles me is that I was so surprised with Judge Buckwalter and I trust him; I think he's an excellent judge. I was just surprised with the results," Devoren said.

Devoren suspects letters from people in high places asking for leniency may have tipped the balance in Fumo's favor.

One of those letters came from Governor Rendell.

"There's a lot of good about Vince Fumo, there's a lot of bad about Vince Fumo and the judge had to balance that. Again, the prosecutors have the ability to appeal if they think that sentence is too lenient," Rendell said.

Rendell is a former prosecutor and says, if it were his case and the judge deviated that far from the sentencing guidelines, he would appeal.

"Is it the proper or appropriate sentence? We'll see what the US Attorney does," Rendell said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease was one of the lead prosecutors on the case.

He argued strongly for a stiff sentence of at least 10 years.

Despite the outcome, he says it was a successful prosecution, guilty on all counts, Fumo out of office and headed for jail.

But, an appeal of the sentence is being considered.

"Given the resources we put into the case and how passionately we argued our side of things, we're certainly going to look at the possibility of whether we should pursue an appeal or not," Pease said.

The U.S. Attorney has 30 days to file and appeal, but it definitely won't happen before next Tuesday. That's when Judge Buckwalter will sentence Fumo's codefendant, Ruth Arnao.