Gov. Rendell praised former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo for "the tremendous good" he has done for the people of Philadelphia. U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady (D., Phila.) asked for mercy for his old friend, calling Fumo "honest and forthright."
Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala - who presided at Fumo's second wedding - also wrote a letter on Fumo's behalf to U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, who is scheduled to sentence Fumo a week from today for his federal corruption conviction.
Prosecutors would have none of it.
In a court filing late yesterday, they said hundreds of letters of support had been written to Buckwalter. They said letters seeking leniency because of his "good works" must be taken "with a considerable grain of salt."
They said Fumo should not receive a more lenient sentence because he was an effective legislator and should get no break because of his heart condition or other medical problems.
They said Fumo lied repeatedly on the stand during his epic trial. And they agreed with the presentence report, compiled by a veteran probation officer, that Fumo faces a possible prison term of 21 to 27 years under sentencing guidelines.
"Fumo abused his public office for his personal benefit. If anything, his status as a trusted public official calls for greater punishment, not less," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys John J. Pease and Robert A. Zauzmer in the 150-page court filing.
They cited 27 areas of what they called "false testimony" by Fumo and said that "a finding of perjury is inescapable."
While Fumo has had a history of heart attack, diabetes, and anxiety, the prosecutors said there was plenty of medical care at federal prisons.
Pease and Zauzmer cited the defense contention that the 21-to-27-year range was "a virtual death sentence" but said the question was not Fumo's life expectancy but whether his condition is so severe that he should be spared prison.
"Fumo's condition is clearly not severe. He is leading a normal life, living on his own, traveling to his various residences, meeting with his lawyers, and socializing with friends and families," wrote the prosecutors, who also mentioned Fumo's engagement over the weekend.
In their filing, prosecutors wrote that Fumo should receive no special consideration because of his heart problems and other medical conditions.
In a footnote, they noted that an Inquirer food critic, in an article published Sunday, recently saw Fumo enjoying blackened scallops, crab cakes, and "old-fashioned ricotta pie" at a Margate restaurant.
Fumo takes 14 medicines and suffers from conditions ranging from the heart problems to restless-leg syndrome. But prosecutors filed a letter from a federal prisons health administrator pledging that the prisons could "provide appropriate care for Mr. Fumo."
The prosecution is demanding that Fumo pay back $4 million in restitution for his crimes. Even if he does, Fumo will still emerge a wealthy man. According to the filing yesterday, the Probation Department estimated his net worth at $9.2 million.
Rendell's two-page letter, which prosecutors mentioned in the filing, was released by the governor's office at The Inquirer's request.
Fumo "worked tirelessly to help and protect the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of Philadelphia," Rendell wrote. "He did it because this sometimes ruthless politician had and still has a deep sense of social responsibility and a strong caring for the plight of the most unfortunate members of our society."
The prosecutors said Fumo displayed a different attitude toward a man accused of stealing an ornamental fence in his district.
They cited an e-mail in which Fumo wrote that he wanted to know in advance whom the assigned judge was and to check with the District Attorney's Office. "I want [expletive] Jail Time on this one. 1st offense or not!"
The prosecution and the defense will square off tomorrow on the presentence report during a hearing before Buckwalter, who is not bound by the sentencing guidelines.
The hearing also is expected to focus on a defense motion that seeks a new trial based on an article in Philadelphia Magazine that a juror had learned of Fumo's previous corruption conviction.
The defense had asked for the new trial last week - and renewed its request in a filing last night.
The defense team - Washington lawyer Samuel Buffone and local defense lawyers Dennis J. Cogan and Peter Goldberger - wrote in last week's motion that it had just learned about juror comments from a freelance writer for Philadelphia Magazine, which posted an article on its Web site yesterday.
In the article, writer Ralph Cipriano wrote that one juror told him she had learned, when she was at work during a break in the trial, about Fumo's 1980 corruption conviction, which was later overturned by a federal judge.
He also reported that the juror had learned that the former president of the Independence Seaport Museum, John S. Carter, was in prison.
Buckwalter had barred prosecutors from introducing into evidence information about the earlier Fumo case and Carter's conviction.
Cipriano, a former Inquirer reporter, wrote that another juror told him that the entire jury knew at the start of the final day of deliberations about news reports that one juror had posted messages on his Facebook and Twitter pages during the trial.
In one posting shortly before the verdict, the juror wrote: "Stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday everyone."
The defense asked Buckwalter to hold a hearing and question jurors.
They said it was likely that many members of the jury occasionally disregarded the judge's frequent instructions to report any exposure to media reports.
If that was confirmed by questioning the jurors, they wrote, the judge "must order a new trial."
Pease and Zauzmer disagreed.
They wrote in a separate court filing yesterday that Buckwalter should not even hold a hearing because of legal precedent that strongly advises against posttrial inquiries into juror activity.
They said Fumo would be unable to show a "likelihood of substantial prejudice."
In the court filing later yesterday, the defense team wrote that media accounts in the case had been biased against Fumo and "repeatedly heralded the strong evidence in the prosecution's favor.
"Exposure to such reports is precisely the type of extraneous information that gives rise to a presumption of prejudice," the defense wrote.