Feds to appeal Fumo's 'unreasonable' sentence

July 17, 2009 9:09:33 AM PDT
Federal prosecutors outraged by former state Sen. Vincent Fumo's 55-month sentence for corruption will ask the Justice Department if they can appeal.

Prosecutors call Vincent Fumo's term "unduly lenient and unreasonable" and cite an outpouring of public support this week.

RELATED: Do you agree with the sentence handed down for Vince Fumo? Tell Action News what you think

The Philadelphia Democrat was sentenced Tuesday for misappropriating millions from the coffers of the state senate and two nonprofits.

TIMELINE: Events leading up to today's sentencing of Vincent Fumo

U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced Fumo well below the 20-plus years recommended by probation or his own guideline calculation of more than 10 years.

Meanwhile, prosecutors will seek about six years or more for Fumo's co-defendant, former senate aide Ruth Arnao.

In letters to the judge, friends say Arnao blindly followed the powerful senator.

The following is from an earlier Action News report abiout Fumo's sentencing:

Myrna Devoren was one of the jurors who convicted Vince Fumo.

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

The jurors convicted Fumo on all 137 counts.

"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.

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.