Prosecutors in the corruption trial of former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo used the testimony of the chairman of the Independence Seaport Museum yesterday to highlight the difference between the trips he and Fumo took on museum yachts:
Fumo, then a board member, cruised free.
Peter McCausland, board chairman, paid for his trips.
Testifying at the start of the ninth week of testimony in the trial, McCausland told the jury that board members were not permitted free trips on the museum's historic yachts.
"I had no knowledge that that took place, and I certainly had no knowledge of that being authorized by the board," testified McCausland, who is chairman of the board of port wardens and also a major donor to the museum.
He told the jury he paid for the trips he took on the yachts, the Enticer and the Principia, including about $10,000 for a millennium cruise in Florida aboard the Enticer.
He said he also insisted on paying a charter fee for use of the Enticer for his wife's birthday party, but that former museum president John S. Carter told him to tip the crew in lieu of a specific fee.
Prosecutors also got McCausland to dispute the defense suggestion that Carter might have been compensating Fumo for his help in getting state grants for the museum.
"No, the museum would never do that," McCausland said under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease. "He wasn't being paid by the museum to raise money from the state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Why not? Pease asked.
"Because that would be bribery, I think," McCausland said.
Carter is serving a 15-year prison sentence for defrauding the museum, a charge that is not connected to the Fumo trial.
Fumo, 65, who had been one of the state's most powerful Democrats in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, is accused in a sprawling indictment of defrauding the museum of about $100,000 by getting free trips on the Enticer and Principia.
Pease also asked McCausland whether Carter had ever sought board approval for allowing Fumo free use of the yachts. The board, he said, "never authorized Mr. Carter to let Sen. Fumo or anyone else use the vessels . . . free of charge."
The defense contends, however, that the trips were legitimate because Carter had specifically approved them for Fumo. Defense attorney Stephen R. LaCheen pointed out that the board's ethics policy forbids using the boats "without the express consent of the president."
"It does say that, doesn't it?" LaCheen asked.
"Yes," McCausland replied.
LaCheen also pointed out that McCausland had dealt directly with Carter about his trips rather than getting board approval.
"I didn't hear you say that you had gone and gotten approval from the board," LaCheen said. "Did you?"
"No," McCausland replied.
LaCheen also questioned him about his wife's birthday-party cruise.
"I paid for the cruise by giving a lot of money to the crew for gratuities, as per Carter's request," said McCausland, who estimated that he gave the crew from $1,000 to $2,000. "I didn't think it was proper to offer the boat to me on the basis that I would not have to pay anything. That's why I insisted on paying."
McCausland also drew a question from U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, who asked whether directors got any benefit from being on the board.
A box of note cards was given out at the board's recent meeting, McCausland said.