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Feds Trying To Increase Restitution Demand on Vince Fumo

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A federal appeals court in Philadelphia is again taking up the case against a onetime local political giant, former Pennsylvania state senator Vincent Fumo, on the amount of restitution he was ordered to pay after his resentencing.

In the courtroom Friday for oral arguments, federal prosecutor Robert Zauzmer told the three judges on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that his office has a statutory obligation to seek full restitution under the "Mandatory Victim Restitution Act," passed by Congress.

Zauzmer says Fumo, now serving time in a federal prison in Kentucky, should be required to pay an additional $800,000 in restitution on top of $3.4 million he already has paid, to cover losses incurred by Citizens Alliance, the nonprofit organization that Fumo founded.

In Zauzmer's words, "We could collect it from Fumo faster than it would take me to walk out of the courtroom."

Prosecutors believe the presiding judge in this case, Ronald Buckwalter, was in error in splitting the restitution issue with Fumo's former aide, Ruth Arnao.  Referring to Arnao, Zauzmer said, "You can't get blood from a rock."  He said Arnao's personal wealth is such that she will never be able to repay what Citizens Alliance lost.

Fumo's lawyer, Peter Goldberger, told the appeals court it was clear that Judge Buckwalter did not abuse his discretion.

Fumo, now 69, is scheduled for release in 2013.

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