Along with the horse trails and a skeet range, former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo knew, his farm needed something else: a pond.
To dig it, he needed a bulldozer. No problem.
Federal prosecutors yesterday called witnesses and presented canceled checks to show that Fumo had a South Philadelphia charity pay the $27,000 for it.
They detailed the purchase of a Caterpillar bulldozer to back up their allegation that the once-powerful senator used his control of Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods to feather his nest - or outfit his Central Pennsylvania farm.
In all, Fumo and his codefendant, former aide Ruth Arnao, are charged with defrauding Citizens' Alliance of $1.4 million by sticking it with the tab for purchases large and small, from the bulldozer to torch lights for a patio.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John J. Pease and Robert A. Zauzmer yesterday also explored how Citizens' Alliance paid $39,000 to help subsidize trips to Cuba for Fumo and his friends.
Defense lawyers Dennis J. Cogan and Edwin M. Jacobs Jr. portrayed the 2001 and 2002 trips as fact-finding missions about the impact of the U.S. trade embargo on the island, while the prosecutors highlighted that those who accompanied Fumo came from his inner circle.
Yesterday's court session started with a digital slide-show tour of Fumo's Riverview Farm, a 100-acre spread 20 miles north of Harrisburg, on a bend of the Susquehanna River.
There, Fumo, politician, lawyer, banker, gun collector and country squire, had barns for horses, cattle and boats, the skeet-shooting area, a remodeled farmhouse and a guest house, and a pair of dogs he named Peco and Verizon - after two corporations he hit up for charitable donations.
Keith Jack, a worker on the farm, told the 12-person jury about vehicles and other items purchased by Citizens' Alliance and used on the farm, from a backhoe to grass seed. But he spent most of his time unraveling the July 2003 bulldozer transaction.
And if Fumo scammed Citizens' Alliance into buying the bulldozer, as the government alleges, it turned out that Jack had his own scam running, too.
Testifying under a grant of immunity, Jack told the jury how he made an instant profit on the bulldozer.
Once he learned that Fumo wanted a bulldozer, Jack said, he had an area friend, Eugene Markel, buy one for $13,900. The pair immediately resold it to Citizens' Alliance for the $27,000.
It was driven right to the farm, and never came within 100 miles of the nonprofit's warehouse in Philadelphia.
According to testimony, one of Fumo's oldest friends, Michael Palermo, bought the bulldozer in March 2004, again for $27,000 - after The Inquirer broke the news that Fumo and Citizens' Alliance were under FBI investigation.
Although Palermo was not charged in the Fumo case, the Fumo indictment says the senator paid him $280,000 in taxpayer money between 1999 and 20004 under a Senate contract, even though he "did little or no actual Senate work."
As for the Cuba excursions, the government maintains that Fumo should not have dipped into the nonprofit's money to pay for part of the costs of the trips for himself and friends in 2001 and 2002.
Yesterday, the government called two of those friends to the stand - Bob Gross, a top official with the Delaware River Port Authority, and Carmen DiCamillo, retired owner of the Voicenet Internet company.
The trips were put together by a Washington organization that advocates an end to the embargo. Gross and DiCamillo lectured the jury yesterday on the justice of that cause, and portrayed the trips as all work and very little play.
"There was no going to the beach or playing golf," he said.
Showing little interest in that, the prosecutors chose to focus on the witnesses' ties to Fumo.
They got Gross, a childhood friend of Fumo's, to talk about he sometimes skippered Fumo's $500,000 Hinckley power boat.
As for DiCamillo, he rents a condo from Fumo in Ventnor and was a guest once on a luxury yacht cruise hosted by the senator in Florida, on a boat from a maritime museum that prosecutors say Fumo used illegally.
DiCamillo also testified that he hired defendant Arnao after she stepped down as executive director of Citizens' Alliance. She is paid $50,000 yearly to generate business leads for his firm, he said.
DiCamillo said he was able to pick a companion for his Cuba trip and chose Gerald Catania, a South Philadelphia florist who is is another old friend of Fumo's. He said he thought the trip might provide Catania with a business opportunity.
"Since Cuba was a nice warm place, they undoubtedly could grow flowers there at some point," DiCamillo said.