After Years-Long Probe, Philly Politician Convicted in Corruption Case
Whether they are conducted by newspaper reporters or federal agents, investigations into public corruption often take years to come to fruition.
Such is the case with the probe of one of the most powerful Democrats in Pennsylvania -- Vincent J. Fumo. On Friday, a federal court jury in Philadelphia found the 65-year-old former state senator guilty on all 137 counts of conspiracy, fraud, tax offenses and obstruction of justice. He was accused of defrauding the state senate and others of more than $3.5 million, with which he bought a 27-room mansion, a 100-acre farm and other goodies.
Investigative reporters for The Philadelphia Inquirer have published stories for years about Fumo's alleged corruption. According to the indictment, "aspects of the matters under investigation came to broad public attention through a series of front-page articles in the Inquirer, which commenced on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003." The FBI and IRS started investigating Fumo and a nonprofit he controlled that same year.
Fumo beat back two previous criminal cases in his career but now is likely headed for prison.
Today, ripples from the case took down another Pennsylvania figure, the head of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Comission. Gov. Ed Rendell ousted Mitchell Rubin from the highway post, saying in a letter that there was overwhelming evidence that Rubin accepted $150,000 from Fumo's state senate committee for work that apparently was never done. Rubin has not been charged with wrongdoing.
Rubin was a friend of Fumo's. His wife, Ruth Arnao, worked on Fumo's staff. She also was convicted last week, on 45 counts of corruption.
The Turnpike Commission has been much in the news recently, although seemingly with no connection to the corruption case. The governor has made a controversial proposal to privatize the road -- considered the nation's first superhighway when it opened in 1940 and now in desperate need of repair -- and has solicited bids from U.S. and foreign banks for a long-term lease.
By The Editors |
March 23, 2009; 5:36 PM ET
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