Jailed former Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, already embroiled in multiple legal battles, faced a new adversary Monday: His 23-year-old daughter, Allison.
Allison Fumo appeared before an Orphans Court judge to ask that the court bar her father from taking action that her lawyers say would hurt her interest in a trust that was worth more than $2 million.
Judge Matthew D. Carrafiello granted her temporary relief, saying no changes could be made to the trust's assets until a new judge was appointed.
But Carrafiello said he had to bow out in the long term because he knows Vincent Fumo and the family of Sylvia DiBona, whom Allison Fumo would like appointed as her trustee. Carrafiello also went to grade school with Rosanne Pauciello, a longtime Fumo lieutenant who once served as trustee.
Vincent Fumo, of course, was not in the courtroom. He is in federal prison in Ashland, Ky., serving a 61-month sentence for his conviction on 137 counts of fraud, tax violations, and obstruction of justice in connection with rip-offs of the Senate and two nonprofit organizations.
Despite his absence, the hour-long hearing in Room 414 of City Hall was a sort of dysfunctional family reunion.
On the right side facing the judge sat Allison Fumo. Behind her were her mother, Jane Scaccetti, Fumo's ex-wife, and DiBona, her godmother. DiBona chairs a nonprofit group, Fred's Footsteps, named for her late husband, G. Fred DiBona Jr., a former chief executive of Independence Blue Cross.
On the other side of the bench sat Thomas A. Leonard, the politically connected lawyer for Vincent Fumo. Behind Leonard were the former senator's fiancee, Carolyn Zinni, and her brother-in-law, Samuel Bennett, whom Fumo appointed to oversee the trust after Pauciello stepped down from that job in September 2011.
Allison Fumo's lawyer said that her father put Bennett in the post without consulting her and that she wanted to replace him with DiBona.
Fumo also faces a Dec. 14 hearing at which federal prosecutors will argue that he should be required to pay an additional $800,000 in restitution on top of $3.5 million he already has paid.
In yet another money worry for Fumo, Samuel Buffone, a Washington lawyer who helped handle Fumo's appeal, has filed legal papers seeking to compel Fumo to go into arbitration over $400,000 in unpaid bills.
This is not the first time Fumo has tangled with one of his children. He left his other daughter, Nicole Marrone, 40, out of the trust.
Marrone and her father have been estranged for more than a decade, and her husband was a key prosecution witness during Fumo's 2009 trial.
Now Allison Fumo is now adding to Vincent Fumo's financial woes, saying the trust should force him to immediately repay $1.5 million he borrowed from it.
She declined to answer questions from a reporter. Her lawyer, Don Foster, said his client wanted to make sure someone protected her interests.
"Not only have [her interests] been ignored, but they have also been trampled, and that is what we are trying to prevent," Foster said. He said he wanted an accounting of the trust and did not know its current value.
Leonard and Walter Weir, Bennett's lawyer, declined to comment.
Vincent Fumo set up the trust for Allison and her half-brother Vincent E. Fumo II, funding it with more than $2 million after he grossed about $15 million from the sale of his family's bank.
Vincent E. Fumo has already received $500,000 from the trust, as he was permitted to do when he turned 40, Foster said.
The trust turmoil began in 2009 when Vincent J. Fumo began borrowing from it, putting up his Spring Garden mansion and a property in Margate, N.J., as collateral.
In February of this year, Vincent J. Fumo gave financial stakes in the Spring Garden and Margate properties to Zinni and his son. Allison Fumo was not given an ownership role in the properties.
Foster, her lawyer, said that the elder Fumo put his loan into default when he added his son and fiancee as owners of the properties. In his filings, Foster argues that Zinni's ownership poses a conflict for Bennett.
The filings also say that Fumo has been seeking to cut the interest rate on his loan from the trust from 4.4 percent to 2.4 percent and push the payoff date back five years.