The U.S. Attorney's Office just announced that it has appealed the controversial prison sentences of former state Sen. Vince Fumo and his one-time aide, Ruth Arnao. Fumo's 55-month sentence, handed down by U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter, prompted outrage from prosecutors and the public. Arnao was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for her role in Fumo's corruption.
These two court filings come with one big caveat -- The U.S. Attorney's Office filed the appeal to keep pace with court deadlines but the ultimate call on whether to go forward will come from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
After the jump, you can read the U.S. Attorney's news release on the appeals.
United States Attorney Michael L. Levy announced that the government today filed notices of appeal of the sentences imposed on Vincent J. Fumo and Ruth Arnao. Fumo, who was convicted of 137 counts of fraud, tax offenses, and obstruction of justice, was sentenced by the district court to a term of 55 months’ imprisonment. Arnao, who was convicted of 45 such counts, was sentenced by the district court to a term of imprisonment of one year and one day.
Today’s filing represents a decision by the United States Attorney’s Office to seek permission from Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C. to proceed with an appeal of the sentences. The final decision whether or not to appeal has not been made. That decision will be made by the Solicitor General of the United States, based on a review process which usually takes several months to complete. The notices of appeal were filed today in order to assure compliance with time deadlines established by applicable court rules. This procedure, of filing a protective notice of appeal pending a final determination by the Solicitor General, is common in government appeals.
Under the court rules, defendants Fumo and Arnao themselves had 10 days after the entry of judgment to file appeals of their convictions and/or sentences. Neither defendant filed an appeal within that time frame. However, the government’s filing today triggers a new period in which Fumo and/or Arnao may file an appeal; that new period will expire on August 26, 2009.