They were the Brains and the Bulldog, and they were unyielding.

Every day court was in session during Vincent J. Fumo's nearly five-month corruption trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Zauzmer and John J. Pease were never spotted at any of the nearby lunch spots.

They spent their breaks in a windowless room at the federal courthouse, prepping witnesses and plotting strategy, FBI Agent Vicki Humphreys recalled.

"John and Bob's work ethic is incredible," she said.

"It was not unusual to get an e-mail from John before 7 a.m. and one from Bob at 2 or 3 in the morning," former FBI Agent Kathleen T. McAfee said. Both agents led the Fumo investigation.

Zauzmer and Pease had to be uncompromising to take down Fumo, the former state senator from Philadelphia with a reputation as a relentless politician.

Zauzmer was the strategist. "He's one of the smartest people I've ever met," Pease said.

"You know you can't outwork him," Zauzmer said of Pease.

The prosecutors were rewarded with a jury verdict of guilty on all 137 criminal counts. Not so rewarding was U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter's sentence Tuesday, condemning the 66-year-old disgraced politician to 55 months in prison - about 12 days per felony.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is considering an appeal.

Nonetheless, Zauzmer and Pease were busy going on with their lives the day after sentencing: Pease was in his office, and Zauzmer had driven to Newark, N.J., to hear one of his daughters sing the national anthem at a minor-league baseball game.

But they are not yet done with "Fumoworld."

"We're still putting together the case at this point," Zauzmer said of the continuing investigation of associates who once thrived in Fumo's orbit. And they have to prepare for the sentencing Tuesday of Fumo codefendant Ruth Arnao, who was found guilty on all 45 counts against her.

Former U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said the two prosecutors "were picked because they would be a good combination."

Meehan ran the office at the start of the investigation in 2003 through Fumo's indictment in 2007.

"They're both dogged, persistent, and smart," Meehan said, adding that both men can "dig in and find gold nuggets hidden in the stream."

Not to be intimidated

"As far back as I can remember, I was always interested in being a trial lawyer," said Pease, who turns 42 today. He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from Archbishop Ryan High School in 1985. "I always liked to debate. I liked writing."

The son of a city Water Department auto mechanic and a homemaker, Pease was the first in his family to go to college.

He went to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and studied finance before earning his law degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

The seeds of becoming a prosecutor were likely planted during law school, when he was among 30 students selected nationwide to be an honors intern at FBI headquarters in Washington.

Pease later passed the test required to become an FBI special agent. But after law school, he joined a major law firm in Philadelphia and worked mainly on complex commercial litigation.

The young lawyer was redirected to law enforcement in 1997 when U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles hired him to be a prosecutor.

In spring 2004, Pease joined the Fumo investigation.

"I really knew very little about Vince Fumo," he said.

Fumo insiders soon came to know - and despise - Pease as he grilled witness after witness before the federal grand jury that indicted the once-powerful Democrat.

"There was a great deal of obstruction and a great deal of vitriol directed at the investigators," Meehan said.

But, he said, Pease was "one of the real bulldogs" in the prosecutor's office and he was not going to be intimidated.

Pease's cross-examination of Fumo caused the former lawmaker to make damaging admissions.

At one point, Fumo declared that his only obligation as a senator was to show up in Harrisburg for votes.

"That sunk him," the jury forewoman said after the verdict.

Pease was well-prepared. Humphreys said Pease's outline for his cross-examination of Fumo was 130 pages and contained a table of contents.

In some cases, his tactics have rubbed opposing counsel the wrong way.

"John is a very capable and worthy adversary," said lawyer Mark E. Cedrone, who represented Independence Seaport Museum president John S. Carter. Fumo was found guilty of defrauding the museum with Carter's help.

But, Cedrone added, Pease "took extremely aggressive positions that were not warranted and resulted in an unjust sentence."

Carter is serving a 15-year prison term for stealing from the museum on a conviction unrelated to the Fumo prosecution.

Strong interest in service

Zauzmer, 48, grew up in Los Angeles. He was the calm counterpart to the intense Pease, but no less determined. Whereas Pease might raise his voice and show flashes of anger, a smiling Zauzmer often would calmly tell an uncooperative witness: "Let's try this again." And he would ask the question again, and again, and again.

Like Pease, he was the first in his family to go to college. His father delivered food to restaurants. His mother was a bookkeeper.

Zauzmer was an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned his law degree from Stanford University. He then crossed the country to Philadelphia and clerked for Judge Arlin M. Adams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

He went home to California but returned to Philadelphia in 1990 to become a federal prosecutor. "I always had a strong interest in public service," he said.

He joined the Fumo investigation in 2006.

He had already successfully prosecuted former Philadelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp.

Though the Fumo case was daunting, Zauzmer said, "I knew exactly what I was getting into."

"John and Bob are both extremely intelligent and brought out the best in each other," said FBI Agent Brian Nichilo, who was part of the Fumo investigation.

"They recognized each other's strengths and played to those when agreeing to a prosecution strategy," Humphreys said.

The only rivalry was a friendly one just before the start of the trial in October.

"My Dodgers lost to his Phillies," Zauzmer said. "Our relationship withstood that."

Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.