Friday, July 31, 2015

Vacuum Cleaners Delivered -- Sort Of -- For Fumo Protest

Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp had a plan: He was going to deliver 300 vacuum cleaners this morning to U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter to protest the 55-month prison sentence for former state Sen. Vince Fumo. The U.S. Marshals Service had another idea: Not going to happen. They reached a compromise: Stilp would park his flat-bed truck loaded with vacuum cleaners one block away from the federal courthouse and not try to deliver them to Buckwalter's office. The truck sported a large sign that said "Judge Buckwalter: No delays, the short sentence sucks."

Vacuum Cleaners Delivered -- Sort Of -- For Fumo Protest

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Stilp clambers up the pile of vacuums on the truck, with the U.S. courthouse in the background. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)
Stilp clambers up the pile of vacuums on the truck, with the U.S. courthouse in the background. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer) ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp had a plan:  He was going to deliver 300 vacuum cleaners this morning to U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter to protest the 55-month prison sentence for former state Sen. Vince Fumo.  The U.S. Marshals Service had another idea:  Not going to happen.  They reached a compromise:  Stilp parked his flat-bed truck loaded with vacuum cleaners one block away from the federal courthouse at 6th and Market streets and didn't try to deliver them to Buckwalter's office.  The truck sported a large sign that said "Judge Buckwalter: No delays, the short sentence sucks."

Fumo's indictment showed that he used money from a non-profit agency he helped start to buy 19 vacuum cleaners, one for every floor of every house he owned.  Stilp, who has filed a judicial complaint accusing Buckwalter of basing his Fumo sentence on the "old boy network" of well-connected people who wrote letters asking for mercy, also objects to Fumo's request to delay his Aug. 31 deadline to report to prison.

Stilp said he decided to respect Fumo's privacy and stay away from an engagement party the former senator threw in South Philly last night.  So what do you do with 300 vacuum cleaners if you can't deliver them to a judge?  Stilp says he will offer them as parts to a vacuum cleaner repair store.

"I think our message has been delivered loud and clear that the sentence sucked," Stilp declared.

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About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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