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

Stilp clambers up the pile of vacuums on the truck, with the U.S. courthouse in the background. (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.