A federal prosecutor argued before a U.S. Court of Appeals panel yesterday that former state Sen. Vince Fumo should be resentenced to a substantially longer term than the 55 months he received for “breathtaking” corruption and fraud.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Zauzmer said District Judge Ronald Buckwalter committed “numerous procedural errors” in going beneath the 121-151 month sentencing range, a controversial decision he based on Fumo’s “extraordinary public service.”
There was “no clear record” of how Buckwalter reached his decision and various pieces of evidence were ignored, Zauzmer said, specifically arguing that they were never told whether the reduction was based on a variance or a sentencing departure. They initially sought a sentence of roughly 27 years, but “the facts in the case did not permit a departure on the grounds cited by the district court.”
“That sounds like a very fundamental error. If we find it that way, it will require a resentencing,” said 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Julio M. Fuentes.
The hearing lasted less than an hour. Fumo attorney Samuel J. Buffone countered that Buckwalter’s overall comments offered the necessary explanation. He also said Fumo was “denied the right to an impartial jury” because one juror had gotten outside information during trial. Zauzmer called it “gamesmanship.”
Fuentes and Judges Richard Nygaard and Leonard Garth, who appeared via closed-circuit television, did not say when their decision would be reached.
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