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Archive for March 16th, 2009

Ex-Penn. State Senator Vincent Fumo Found Guilty on 137 Counts; Judge Brushes Off Facebook Controversy

Ex-Sen. Vincent Fumo/whtm.com photo

Ex-Sen. Vincent Fumo/whtm.com photo

After a long drawn out court battle, the ex-state Sen. Vincent Fumo
got hit big– a conviction on all 137 counts. His attorneys tried this morning to derail the deliberations after discovering that one juror had posted a note on Facebook saying “Stay Tuned” for Monday. But after questioning the juror, the judge denied the defense motion. Expect that issue to come up on appeal.

By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Emilie Lounsberry and Robert Moran
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — Former State Sen. Vincent Fumo was convicted of all 137 counts against him today as his marathon federal corruption trial ended in a stunning victory for prosecutors.

The jury also found co-defendant Ruth Arnao guilty of all 45 counts against her.

After a 30-minute hearing this afternoon, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter agreed to let Fumo and Arnao remain free pending sentencing although he ordered them to post bail of $2 million and $500,000, respectively, by Wednesday.

The two had been free on unsecured own-recognizance bail since they were charged.

Fumo’s bail will be secured by properties he owns in Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania, the Jersey Shore and Florida; Arnao’s will be secured by her home in Philadelphia.

For Full Story

Fed Grand Jury Probing Alabama Atty. Gen.

Atty. Gen. Troy King

Atty. Gen. Troy King

This is one heck of an interesting situation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montgomery has recused itself and the Birmingham office is handling the probe which seems to be focusing on a variety of matters including gambling and selective prosecution. It’s never good when a state Attorney General is the target of a federal probe, whether there’s something there or not.

By Bob Gambacurta
The Montgomery Independent
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A special called federal grand jury in Montgomery, investigating the Alabama Attorney General and the activities of his office, heard from more than a half-dozen witnesses last week. News of the grand jury investigation caught even the target, Attorney General Troy King, by surprise.

“Sure, that would be a surprise,” King told the Montgomery Independent Monday afternoon when contacted about the investigation. Friends and staff of the Republican Attorney General said they were “shocked” to learn of the investigation.

The Independent broke the story Monday at 7:55 p.m. with a posting on this Web site. Multiple, highly-placed sources told the Independent that at least seven former employees of the Attorney General’s office were called to testify Monday through Friday of last week.

For Full Story

Will Facebook Comment Derail Jury Deliberations in Philly Federal Corruption Case?

facebook1This was bound to happen. Some folks on Facebook want to announce their every burp and scratch. But in this case, the ramblings of one Facebook member could be costly. As the Facebook message says “STAY TUNED…”

By KITTY CAPARELLA
Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA — “STAY TUNED for a big announcement on Monday everyone!”

So wrote a blogging juror who’s been deliberating for five days in the public corruption trial of former state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, in a comment posted Friday on his Facebook Internet profile.

The posting by Juror No. 5 – Eric Wuest of suburban College-ville – raised questions:

Is a verdict imminent? Did Wuest have third-party discussions about the trial as a result of his postings on Facebook and Twitter social networking Internet accounts during the 15-week trial and the ensuing deliberations?

Last night, Fumo defense attorneys NiaLena Caravasos and Peter Goldberger filed an emergency motion seeking an immediate suspension of deliberations so the judge could conduct “a delicate, but probing inquiry” of the juror Wuest’s actions.

“Depending on the results, the lawyers wrote, “one or more jurors ought to be removed and possibly replaced.”

For Full Story

OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

Dick Cheney Says He Strongly Disagreed With Bush Over Scooter Libby Pardon

Dick Cheney while still v.p.

Dick Cheney while still v.p.

Perhaps one of the more surprising things at the end of the Bush era was that the president did not offer pardons to more high-profile people, particular those like Scooter Libby. Obviously, the grief President Clinton got for pardoning financier Marc Rich must have had some impact on his decision to pass on many pardons.

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Former vice president Richard B. Cheney
said yesterday that he strongly disagreed with President Bush’s decision not to pardon I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, saying his former chief of staff had been left “hanging in the wind.”

“I think he’s an innocent man who deserves a pardon,” Cheney said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” in what the cable news program billed as his first television interview since leaving office in January.

Libby, Cheney’s top adviser, was the only Bush administration official to face criminal charges in the case surrounding the exposure of Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative in 2003.

For Full Story