Fumo and Arnao "systematically" stole $1 million from a non-profit they ran called Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhood, Pease told jurors. The staffers of the non-profit served as a personal trash and snow removal service for Fumo and Arnao.
For Christmas, the staffers delivered "several truckloads" of Christmas decorations to Fumo's Green Street mansion because the senator "decorated in style." The non-profit paid for "hot tub chemicals" for Fumo and many other personal items, including 17 vacuums.
Pease told the jury that a "public official cannot use public resources for private gain" or political activity. "The rules are very simple," Pease said, and they were broken by Fumo "on a daily basis for years and years. Pease has detailed a litany of alleged illegal uses of taxpayer money, including having a $100,000-a-year budget analyst spend months overseeing the planning and building of of Fumo's farm, inclduing designing barns and selecting animals.
Pease told the jury that "public officials cannot use public resources for private gain" or political activity. "The rules are very simple," Pease said, and they "were broken on a daily basis for years and years" by Fumo.
At 9:45 a.m., the 12 jurors and four alternates were brought into the courtroom and Judge Ronald L Buckwalter began the session. Buckwalter is addressing the jury, thanking them for their service and explaining the importance of their duty in assessing the guilt or innocence of Fumo and Arnao.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease started the prosecution's case by telling the jury that this case is about "greed, power, and a profound sense of personal entitlement" and he mentions Fumo's use of the term "OPM" - other people's money. The courtroom is now standing room only. Pease is being watched in the front row by his boss, Acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid.
Opening arguments are scheduled to begin today sometime after 9:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Center City for the criminal trial of State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo. Check here throughout the day for regular updates.
At 9:17 a.m., a long line that had formed outside the 17th floor courtroom for the Fumo trial was finally allowed in. One longtime court reporter said such a line has not been seen in recent years for a federal trial. The line included lawyers, reporters, Fumo's son, and others. The courtroom continues to fill up and is near capacity. The senator and his attorney, Dennis Cogan, finally arrived at 9:25 a.m. along with Fumo's co-defendant, Ruth Arnao.