After 1,300 exhibits, 15 weeks of testimony by more than 100 witnesses and 25 hours of closing arguments, jurors in Vince Fumo's federal corruption trial will begin deliberating today over the fate of the former senator and a trusted aide.
Fumo is charged with obstruction of justice and with defrauding the state Senate, a South Philadelphia charity he founded and a maritime museum of almost $3.5 million.
Ruth Arnao, who was executive director of the charity, Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, is charged with defrauding the nonprofit, filing false tax returns and obstruction.
Two other defendants in the case pleaded guilty to obstruction charges in August and await sentencing.
A federal prosecutor, in his rebuttal to closing arguments by defense lawyers, said the defense repeatedly made "misstatements" about testimony and evidence in the case.
Earlier yesterday, Fumo attorney Dennis Cogan accused the government of "demonizing" Fumo. He said Fumo was the victim of an "unrelenting onslaught" by the feds.
Cogan reminded jurors of what he said in his opening statement - "I ask you to acquit my client and give him back his life" - and then amended it.
"It's too late. Give him back what is left of his life," Cogan pleaded.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Zauzmer belittled defense arguments that neither the Senate nor Citizens Alliance had been defrauded.
He said it was not demonizing Fumo to show the jury pictures of Fumo's homes in Philadelphia, at the Jersey Shore and in Florida where Senate staffers and Citizens Alliance workers were dispatched to do myriad personal tasks, including installation of a weather station on the roof of one of Fumo's Florida homes.
He said Arnao's attorney, Ed Jacobs Jr., attempted to create a "parallel universe" in his closing argument in order to mask Fumo's control over decision-making at Citizens Alliance.
Zauzmer said the Senate-fraud portion of the case "could begin and end" with the testimony of former Senate staffer, Jamie Spagna, a key government witness.
The prosecutor reminded jurors that Spagna testified that she had done no Senate work at all when Fumo employed her as a Senate aide between 2001 and 2003.
"She had a full-time Senate job doing personal and political work and Citizens Alliance work," Zauzmer said.
Zauzmer said it was instructive that the defense had not mentioned what he called the "smoking gun" - a 2001 memo Arnao wrote to Spagna and another Senate staffer outlining their job responsibilities, which included campaign work, handling Fumo's personal finances and writing checks for Citizens Alliance.
The prosecutor ridiculed defense arguments that Citizens Alliance had been repaid for a bulldozer it bought for Fumo's use on his farm outside Harrisburg or money the charity spent for political polling.
Citizens Alliance was repaid after the federal investigation of Fumo became public.
"If you pay something back after you get caught, you're not getting brownie points for it," Zauzmer told jurors.
Zauzmer said if jurors had any question that e-mails had been destroyed in a "feverish effort" to thwart the investigation, they need only consider why investigators found only 100 e-mails on Citizens Alliance's computers, most of it spam and none of it more than a month old.
The prosecutor saved the final word for Fumo, who, although he had done "important things, good things," that did not excuse his alleged misdeeds.
"He had an obligation to follow the law . . . not to use public office to enrich himself, not to use other people's money to shower himself with goods and services and run political campaigns when those other people are taxpayers," Zauzmer concluded. *