Aide to Vince Fumo pleads guilty

June 5, 2008 6:13:37 PM PDT
A confidante of indicted state Sen. Vince Fumo will admit in court that he, Fumo and others used more than $200,000 in state Senate funds on campaign work, documents show.

Federal prosecutors preparing for the powerful lawmaker's fall corruption trial filed a plea agreement Thursday signed by campaign consultant Howard Cain.

Cain, 60, of Wayne, also admits he failed to pay $411,000 in taxes on $1.6 million in income from 1997 to 2006 - and that he filed no tax returns from 1991 through 2006, the documents show.

The Senate Appropriations Committee paid Cain about $80,000 a year from 2000 to 2006, when Fumo served as ranking Democrat. Those contracts provided roughly half of Cain's annual income.

Cain also served as Fumo's campaign consultant during at least some of that time.

Cain will plead guilty to one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum five-year term, according to his signed plea agreement.

He is not charged with misusing state funds, but has agreed at sentencing to stipulate that he, Fumo and others conspired to lie on invoices about the real use of the state funds.

Cain did not return a message left at his home Thursday, and defense lawyer Peter J. Scuderi declined comment. No date has been set for his plea hearing.

Fumo's trial, set for Sept. 8, is expected to last three months or more. The 141-count indictment also names several other defendants.

The veteran Philadelphia lawmaker is charged in a 139-count indictment with defrauding the state Senate, a seaport museum and a nonprofit of more than $1 million. Prosecutors say he long used their staffs and assets for his personal and political needs.

Fumo did not seek re-election this year after 30 years in the Senate, citing the upcoming trial.

His lawyer, Dennis Cogan, did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on Cain's plea agreement, which calls for Cain to cooperate.

A 2004 news story credits Cain as the brainchild behind an unusual, $30,000 mailing after the spring primary, in which Fumo thanked voters for re-electing him. Fumo's campaign sent out more than 40,000 prepaid, five-minute phone cards, along with a picture of Fumo and a note of thanks.

"I said, 'Why don't we send them something, something they might use and enjoy?"' Cain said at the time.

U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer, a lead prosecutor in the Fumo case, also declined comment on Cain's plea agreement.

Here are some of the official documents in the case.