RUTH ARNAO, a longtime aide to Vince Fumo and later executive director of a nonprofit he founded, was "scared to death" she might be sent back to prison, her attorney said yesterday after her resentencing in federal court.
She need not have worried about that.
But U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter did stick her with half the tab - $783,264 - to repay now-defunct Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods for the fraud she and Fumo committed.
Arnao, 55, was sentenced to a year and a day in July 2009 for 45 counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice, and Buckwalter resentenced her yesterday to the same amount of time. She was released in July 2010.
Prosecutors said she and Fumo stole almost $1.6 million from the charity by getting it to pay for hundreds of personal items - vacuum cleaners, farm equipment, power tools and other goodies.
An appeals court ordered resentencing for both Fumo and Arnao after concluding that Buckwalter had made procedural errors in their earlier sentencings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer argued that Fumo should be responsible for the lion's share of the restitution since he had reaped 90 percent of the benefits of the Citizens Alliance fraud. The prosecutor said Fumo also had the financial resources to pay back Citizens Alliance more quickly than Arnao.
But Buckwalter disagreed, noting that it was "difficult to assess" which defendant was responsible for certain losses and thus "impossible" for him to determine anything other than a 50-50 split.
Zauzmer, who argued that Arnao had received only $50,000 of benefits from the fraud, said the feds objected to the restitution decision and would carefully review the record for a possible appeal. Any restitution Arnao pays would likely go to a successor organization of Citizens Alliance.
The feds sought at least nine years in prison for Arnao. Egan said "no purpose would be served" by putting Arnao, who works as an administrative aide at a local hospice, back in prison.
The judge said he was "impressed" by her remorse and rehabilitation since her release.
"You endured a significant period of incarceration and seem to have emerged with a strong sense of morality," Buckwalter said.
Before resentencing, Buckwalter also addressed comments he made at Fumo's resentencing last week that prosecutors had "possibly" violated Department of Justice guidelines by "overcharging" Fumo, who was convicted of 137 corruption counts.