PHILADELPHIA – A once-powerful Pennsylvania lawmaker, Vincent Fumo is set to leave prison next month, but his legal woes still mount as his children accuse him of raiding a family trust fund.
Fumo, 70, netted more than $13 million from a family bank, and made millions more as a lawyer and state senator. He’s finishing a five-year prison term for using the state senate and two charities as private piggy banks, to the tune of $4.2 million.
Fumo’s assets have dwindled since the days when he jet set among his four homes, including a 33-room Philadelphia mansion with a basement shooting range, beach homes in New Jersey and Florida and a sprawling farm near the state Capitol in Harrisburg.
His expenses in recent years have included $4 million for defense lawyers, $4 million restitution and $3 million in back taxes and fines. That explains why the dapper Mensa member, now in federal prison in Kentucky, sought a loan from a trust he created for two of his children.
Vincent E. Fumo, 44, and Allison Fumo, 23, agreed to loan their father $1.4 million from the $2.5 million trust. But in an October legal filing, she accused her father of switching the short-term loan to a low-interest note due in 2040, and she complained that he named his fiancee’s brother-in-law, a turnpike maintenance worker, to be her trustee.
“I don’t trust my father, unfortunately,” Allison Fumo testified this week in Philadelphia Orphan’s Court.
In his heyday, Fumo controlled scores of jobs in the state senate and other agencies, including the state turnpike commission, a museum and a South Philadelphia nonprofit. Both Allison Fumo and her brother supported him at his five-month trial, although she was a college student and came to court less often. She has since graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and works in accounting.
“This is the type of thing that a daughter should never have to go through,” lawyer Bill Heymon argued Friday to Judge Joseph D. O’Keefe. In angry letters from prison, Fumo pledged “to completely waste the trust to his daughter’s detriment if he doesn’t have control,” Heymon said.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Thomas Myers, a Fumo friend who directs the trust, chastised Fumo’s children for challenging their father as he sat in prison. “Talk about kicking a man – their own father, no less – while he’s down. Wow,” lawyer Timothy Holman said.
The judge asked the lawyers for written briefs on whether Allison Fumo can dissolve the trust or at least replace her trustee. O’Keefe also asked the parties to try to negotiate some agreement.
Amid the legal strife, Samuel Bennett has resigned as Allison Fumo’s trustee. Bennett is the brother-in-law of Fumo fiancee Carolyn Zinni. Fumo has since named his longtime doctor to replace Bennett, but Allison Fumo wants her mother’s best friend named to the post.
Vincent E. Fumo, a daily presence at his father’s trial, has received his money from the fund, Heymon said. But Allison Fumo has not because of her age and the rules her father has put in place.