Vincent J. Fumo: A High-Impact, Controversial Career
May 8, 1943
Fumo is born in South Philadelphia, grandson of the man who founded Fumo Building & Loan in 1923.
After attending Notre Dame Academy off Rittenhouse Square for elementary school and St. Joseph Prep on Girard Avenue for high school, he receives an undergraduate degree in biology from Villanova University. Later, Fumo earns a law degree from Temple University, in 1972, and a business degree from Penn's Wharton School, in 1984.
After a brief period as a teacher, Fumo begins his political career, working as a bureaucrat in the administration of Democratic Gov. Milton J. Shapp. He leaves his state position amid a mini-scandal: allegations that he spent much of his time doing opposition research on Shapp opponents.
Fumo wins election to the First Senatorial District, replacing political power Henry J. "Buddy" Cianfrani, who had been convicted of political corruption.
Fumo becomes the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hiring a highly respected and highly paid staff, Fumo emerges as a power in Harrisburg, despite the Democrats' minority status in the legislature.
Fumo becomes "of counsel" to Dilworth Paxson, a Philadelphia law firm. The firm pays him as much as $1 million annually to serve as a "rainmaker."
Fumo drafts a law for instant background checks for gun purchases.
After Pennsylvania deregulates energy, Fumo sues Peco Energy Co., saying the law creates a windfall for the energy companies.
Fumo strikes a secret deal with Peco Energy under which it cuts rates — and sends millions to a South Philadelphia charity, Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods. Fumo drops his opposition to the utility's deregulation plans. In all, Peco sends $17 million to Citizens' Alliance.
Fumo orchestrates a legislative coup, wheeling and dealing to win enough votes to pass legalized slots gambling in Pennsylvania. Gov. Rendell, still struggling to find his legs in Harrisburg, credits Fumo for his ability to battle opponents and get the bill passed. (Fumo staff attorney Christopher Craig wrote much of the bill.)
A federal grand jury indicts two former state Senate aides, accusing them of deleting e-mails to thwart a federal corruption and extortion investigation of Fumo. The aides, Leonard P. Luchko and Mark C. Eister, plead not guilty.
Fumo agrees to a $94 million deal to sell PSB Bancorp Inc., the banking company founded by his grandfather that became First Penn Bank. Fumo makes an estimated $15 million.
A grand jury returns a 267-page, 139-count indictment of Fumo charging him with fraud, conspiracy, and directing a cover-up. On the same day, prosecutors charge longtime staffer and friend Ruth Arnao with using Citizens' Alliance money to fund a lavish lifestyle. Arnao had founded the nonprofit in 1991.
Fumo replaces longtime lawyer Richard A. Sprague with Dennis J. Cogan, citing potential conflicts of interests that would hinder his defense.
Fumo announces he will not seek reelection to his Senate seat, citing a "cloud hanging over [his] head" from the federal indictment.