NOTE: This story has been corrected.
A live-in butler for former state Sen. Vince Fumo told a federal jury yesterday at Fumo's corruption trial that Fumo had asked him to no longer call a Fumo-created nonprofit organization whose workers shoveled snow and performed other chores at Fumo's Fairmount home.
"He said, 'The feds are on me,' words to that effect," Matthew Fonseca testified.
Fonseca, a professional polo player who lives in Florida and plays for a team owned by the actor Tommy Lee Jones, worked for Fumo from February 2004 to February 2005.
The one-time butler spoke with a bit of a British accent and methodically corroborated earlier testimony by government witnesses who said that Fumo had used personnel and assets from the Senate and from the nonprofit - Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods - for his personal benefit.
Fonseca testified that he had use of a Senate laptop that was serviced by two computer aides who worked in Fumo's Tasker Street district office. He said that he also had an e-mail account on Fumo's Senate server, fumo.com, and used it for business and personal work.
Fonseca said that he met Fumo in August 2003 while he was a chef on a luxury yacht owned by the Independence Seaport Museum.
Fumo, former aide and co-defendant Ruth Arnao, Fumo's girlfriend at the time and other friends of Fumo were on the trip.
Prosecutors say that Fumo bilked the museum at Penn's Landing of more than $100,000 by using its yachts to take summertime trips to Martha's Vineyard for pleasure.
The defense has maintained that Fumo engaged in fundraising for the museum, but Fonseca said that he had not observed any business being done while he accompanied Fumo, a former museum board member, on the yacht trips.
Fonseca said that he had been hired to work for Fumo after two meetings with Arnao at Fumo's district office, initially for $2,200 a month plus room and board at Fumo's Fairmount home, which was later increased to $2,800 a month. (On cross-examination, Fonseca acknowledged that he had been paid from one of Fumo's personal accounts.)
Fonseca testified that he once saw Frank Wallace, a private investigator who had a lucrative contract with the Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee, at Fumo's Green Street home sweeping the house for electronic bugs.
Fonseca testified that he often saw Citizens Alliance workers at the house performing personal tasks for Fumo, which included, among other things, shoveling snow, power-washing brick walls and delivering Christmas decorations.
Fonseca said that he initially thought that Citizens Alliance was a company owned by Fumo.
"What led you to think that?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Zauzmer.
"He was in charge, in control of it," Fonseca replied, adding that Fumo "seemed to be the boss."
The feds say that Fumo and Arnao looted Citizens Alliance of more than $1 million. The defense maintains that goods and services provided to Fumo by Citizens Alliance were "comps" for fundraising on behalf of the nonprofit.
Fonseca said that he also cooked for Fumo at Fumo's homes in Florida, the Jersey Shore and his farm outside Harrisburg.
Fonseca said that he also had done Fumo's grocery shopping and had accompanied him on shopping sprees.
Fonseca said that two Senate staffers who were Fumo's drivers made deliveries of goods every day to Fumo's Green Street residence.
Fonseca told jurors that he quit as Fumo's butler because the job "got too demanding . . . and was too much of a hassle. I just decided to move on," he said.
Defense attorneys sought to raise doubts about Fonseca's credibility, pointing to three instances in which his testimony yesterday didn't square with what he told the grand jury in December 2006, including a discrepancy concerning who was responsible for the care of livestock on Fumo's farm.
Fonseca told the grand jury that Margaret Shoulders had been the caretaker, but yesterday testified that Shoulders and her husband, Charles, a Senate staffer in Fumo's Harrisburg office, both took care of the animals. *
A headline and story about the Fumo trial in the Dec. 11 edition of the Daily News incorrectly reported a quote from testimony by Fumo's former butler. The butler actually said Fumo told him, "the feds are on me..."