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Once-powerful Pa. senator faces long fraud trial
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    PHILADELPHIA — A longtime power broker in Pennsylvania politics earned nearly $100,000 a year as a state senator, up to $1 million a year as a rainmaking lawyer and millions more from the sale of a family bank.
    However, prosecutors say freewheeling Philadelphia Democrat Vincent Fumo used little of his own money as he took yachting vacations with friends, spent lavishly on a 33-room city brownstone and hired operatives to spy on ex-wives and political foes.
    Fumo faces trial Monday in federal court on charges alleging he used $3.5 million in what he called ‘‘OPM’’ — other people’s money — to keep his political machine well oiled and fund a lifestyle that included three vacation homes and heated sidewalks outside his mansion. The trial is expected to last a full three months, after a week of jury selection.
    Fumo is accused of misusing nearly $2 million in Senate funds and of raiding the coffers of a neighborhood charity after using his political clout to steer $27 million in corporate donations to the charity.
    Fumo, 65, argues that he did nothing illegal and worked tirelessly to serve his constituents in blue-collar, parochial South Philadelphia. He takes credit for securing more than $8 billion in government and corporate benefits for the region.
    ‘‘I spent half my life here and I spent it here with every fiber in my body,’’ Fumo said in a farewell speech to the Senate this summer, after deciding not to seek another term this fall.
    Fumo, who beat two indictments early in his political career, made his mark on nearly every major Pennsylvania law enacted in the past 20 years, from the state’s school funding formula to the 2004 law that legalized slot-machine gambling.
    Fumo was the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee until his 2007 indictment. Over three decades in the Senate, he had come to control 90 state jobs and many more positions on civic boards and agencies.
    The indictment says he unabashedly assigned many of those loyalists to carry out his personal and political chores.
    ‘‘Fumo made demands on Senate employees regarding everything in his life, from the significant to the trivial,’’ the indictment says.
    Senate staffer Christian Marrone, who married Fumo’s daughter, says he spent 18 months on the state payroll mostly overseeing renovations at Fumo’s mansion.
    Fumo also awarded little- or no-work contracts to friends, including state turnpike authority chairman Mitchell Rubin, prosecutors said in court filings. Rubin’s wife, Ruth Arnao, did little Senate work for her $95,000 salary as Fumo’s executive assistant, they said. The couple vacationed with Fumo, and she later ran the neighborhood nonprofit, Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods.
    Arnao is Fumo’s sole remaining co-defendant, after two state computer technicians pleaded guilty to destroying e-mail evidence. They are expected to testify against Fumo.
    Citizens Alliance received $17 million from Peco Energy and the Delaware River Port Authority, on which Fumo served, gave $10 million.
    Some of the money went to fund charter schools and sweep streets, but prosecutors say Fumo also tapped the charity for free campaign office space and $600,000 in furnishings, $250,000 for political polling, and a $27,000 bulldozer for his farm.
    Fumo is charged with 139 counts of fraud and obstruction, but prosecutors believe Fumo thwarted their pursuit of evidence of extortion, destroying e-mails about the Peco donation to Citizens Alliance and his unsuccessful bid for a donation from Verizon. Both companies had regulatory issues pending before the Legislature.
    ‘‘The conspiracy ... thwart(ed) the investigators’ ability to determine whether federal crimes were committed in connection with those matters,’’ prosecutors said in court papers last month.
    Through spokesman Gary Tuma, Fumo declined to comment Friday on the criminal case. Defense lawyer Dennis Cogan has also declined to comment.

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