There is no bribery charge. No freezer full of cash. No hazy video of money changing hands.

Instead, the federal corruption case against former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo has so far been more like 100 counts of grand theft.

That has been made made plain over the last seven weeks as prosecutors all but wrapped up the first phase of the complex case: the allegation that Fumo turned his state-paid staff into servants and political operatives.

When trial resumes this morning in U.S. District Court, Assistant U.S. Attorneys John J. Pease and Robert A. Zauzmer will plunge ahead with more witnesses in the second part of the sprawling indictment, charging that Fumo also defrauded a South Philadelphia nonprofit.

Then, they will seek to show that he ripped off a maritime museum by taking free luxury yacht cruises - and then orchestrated a cover-up to try to hide all of it. The federal government contends that the loss to taxpayers and both institutions totaled $3.5 million.

Early in the new year, the defense will make its case. The most dramatic moment will come if Fumo - as expected - takes the stand. His co-defendant, Ruth Arnao, is also expected to testify.

On the issue of how Fumo deployed his state staff, the battles lines are now clear.

Prosecutors have elicited testimony from a string of witnesses, some friendly, some hostile, that they carried out numerous personal and political tasks for Fumo.

According to testimony, taxpayer-paid aides and consultants oversaw the renovation of his mansion, spied for him, plotted his campaign, collected his rents, paid his bills, ran his PACs, planned his fund-raisers, posted his campaign signs, kept track of his mail-order catalogs, purchased his firearms and other collectibles, worked on his farm, bought his groceries - and even mailed his favorite hazelnut coffee and Earl Grey tea to his vacation home in Florida.

And that's a partial list.

Fumo's legal team has not much disputed that Fumo's aides did things like that.

What defense lawyer Dennis J. Cogan and Edwin J. Jacobs Jr. keep insisting, however, is that the aides worked far more than the state-required 371/2 hours a week.

This was why, they say, the powerful Democrat was uncommonly effective, "a legend in Harrisburg," as Cogan put it.

In a way, the defense case boils down to the argument that Fumo was not a criminal, but a benevolent dictator who got his people to almost toil around the clock.

To be sure, some of the aides bristled at the demands from Fumo. One, former budget analyst Christopher Soura, said he logged onto the Monster.com job site the night he heard that Fumo was under FBI investigation.

"I wasn't comfortable with what kind of things happened in the office on state time," Soura testified.

But others were plainly deeply enamored of Fumo and proud of their time on his staff. Fumo's 30-year public career ended Monday when he stepped down from the Senate.

Gerald Sabol, a retired aide, found even Fumo's negative reputation among some a plus.

"I love," Sabol once wrote in an e-mail to Fumo that was introduced into evidence, "the notoriety of working for you."

Vincent Rossi, a transit expert on the senator's staff, said his labors had impact.

"Sen. Fumo was an astute senator," Rossi told the jurors. "I liked working for an astute senator because he got things done."

Aside from his focus on legislative issues, Rossi also put in some time researching personal matters for Fumo, such as whether South American cattle could be imported to Pennsylvania, where the senator has a farm outside Harrisburg.

A defense cross-examination of Rossi may have captured the essence of the issue confronting jurors.

At one point, Jacobs asked Rossi whether he had engaged in these personal tasks for Fumo "as a favor for your boss?"

"No," Rossi replied.

Why then?

"Because he told me to," Rossi replied.

Did he still complete all of his legislative assignments?

"Of course. I had to."

In court, prosecutors have challenged any notion that the personal work was justified.

On the one hand, Pease and Zauzmer have sought to establish that some of the aides worked only the minimum required time, even as they used much of it serving Fumo's personal needs.

They also have been making a more sophisticated argument to jurors - that some staffers were vastly overpaid, fraudulently so, and that's why they were happy to toil the extra hours.

To back up that contention, the prosecutors have gotten many aides to acknowledge that their real duties bore no relationship to the official job descriptions Fumo filed with state Senate administrators to justify their pay - or their generous raises.

Contact staff writer Emilie Lounsberry at 215-854-4828 or elounsberry@phillynews.com.