STATE Sen. Vince Fumo touts his membership in the American Mensa Society, a society for people with very high IQs.
But Fumo wasn't smart enough to avoid being charged yesterday with 139 felonies by a federal grand jury.
The feds said Fumo, 63, one of the state's most influential power brokers, used his Senate workers to clean his house and provide personal services, and tapped a charity he helped organize to provide him with cars, tools and other goodies.
The charges include conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and aiding and assisting the filing of a false tax return.
If convicted of all charges, Fumo, a state senator since 1978, could face from five to 15 years behind bars, sources said.
Ruth Arnao, 50, a longtime aide and former executive director of the Fumo charity, Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, also was indicted.
She is charged with 45 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return.
The 267-page indictment painted Fumo as a man who "abused" his power to "build an empire" of Senate and charity employees who catered to his personal needs, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said.
Fumo used Senate employees, government-paid contractors and the charity workers "to serve [Fumo's] sense of entitlement," Meehan said.
And, then, when Fumo realized investigators were onto him, he orchestrated a coverup by directing aides to destroy e-mails and other electronic evidence to scuttle the federal investigation, Meehan said.
Prosecutors said Fumo expressed a philosophy of using "other people's money," which was called "OPM." It was this philsophy that underlay the fraud.
Fumo will fire back tomorrow when his attorneys hold a press conference at the office of his attorney, Richard A. Sprague, to address the charges.
In remarks Monday on the floor of the state Senate, Fumo said he had not done anything illegal and that he and his staff had "produced" more than $8 billion in benefits for the city and the region.
Joel Frank, an attorney for Arnao, said she "categorically denied" engaging in any illegal activity.
"We intend to fight these charges and present the facts in court," Frank said.
Fumo and Arnao are scheduled to be arraigned before a federal magistrate today.
Two former Fumo computer aides, Leonard Luchko, 50, and Mark Eister, 37, were again charged with 29 counts and five counts, respectively, of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Both were indicted last June on obstruction charges, pleaded not guilty and are to stand trial in May.
Meehan took issue with Fumo's assertion Monday that the feds' suggestion that his Senate staffers were used as political operatives or personal assistants reflected an "amazing ignorance" of the legislative process.
"When you commit to public service you accept that there is a line," Meehan said, "and that that line is clear: The people's assets and resources . . . cannot be used for private benefit. Sen. Fumo just didn't step over the line; he completely ignored it."
The indictment alleges that Fumo's "fraudulent and extensive use" of Senate resources for his own benefit resulted in a loss to the Senate of more than $1 million.
Here are some examples of how prosecutors say Fumo stepped over the line:
* Fumo observed no distinction between public and private tasks for Senate staffers.
Staffers in his Philadelphia district office allegedly worked on Fumo's campaigns and campaigns of City Council candidates he favored.
The indictment alleged that Senate staffers in Harrisburg spent more time attending to Fumo's personal needs than the public's business.
A former Senate staffer served an 18-month stint as "project manager" overseeing the "restoration and refurbishment" of Fumo's 33-room mansion on Green Street in the Fairmount section.
Senate aides were routinely dispatched during regular working hours, the feds said. Among their duties: cleaning Fumo's homes, overseeing the 100-acre farm he bought in 2003 near Harrisburg and even driving luxury cars supplied by Citizens Alliance to Martha's Vineyard, Mass., so Fumo and his guests could arrive by private jet and have cars and luggage waiting for them.
Martha's Vineyard is a favored summertime playground for the rich and famous.
The feds said Fumo even gave a $40,000-a-year, taxpayer-financed contract to a private eye, ostensibly to do research for the Appropriations Committee.
But the detective's main job was to dig up dirt on Fumo's political enemies, and follow his ex-wife and ex-girlfriends and their new boyfriends.
Meehan characterized this as "scary."
* Fumo used Citizens Alliance for his personal benefit, the indictment charged.
Fumo and Arnao routinely skimmed from Alliance accounts to pay for personal goods and services.
The charity bought $75,000 worth of tools and other items for use in Fumo's four homes, including 19 Oreck vacuum cleaners, the feds charged.
Citizens Alliance paid for shopping sprees during summer months down the shore when Fumo and Arnao would meet to stock up on thousands of dollars worth of household items for their summer homes.
Citizens also bought a loaded-to-the-max, $55,000 SUV for use by Fumo's drivers at his Tasker Street office.
Fumo got a $38,000 minivan and Arnao a $25,000 Jeep for their personal use, courtesy of the charity, the indictment charged.
Laborers hired by Citizens Alliance were routinely dispatched to his homes and farm to do repair work, clear snow and pick up trash.
Citizens Alliance also provided heavy equipment it purchased - a bulldozer, a backhoe and a dump truck - for use at Fumo's properties, free of charge, the feds said.
And Arnao filed false tax returns with Fumo's assistance to mask the political spending and other improper use of Citizens Alliance's funds, the feds charged.
* Fumo is also alleged to have exploited his position as a board member at the Independence Seaport Museum.
The feds said the museum provided a free yacht for Fumo's use at Martha's Vineyard on his vacations from 1996 through 2003.
The yacht was supposed to be used to drum up contributions for the museum, the feds said, not as a plaything for Fumo.
The indictment charged that when neither of the museum's boats was available in 2001, the museum rented another yacht for $13,775 and let Fumo have it for his summer vacation.
The indictment added that Fumo did not repay the museum for the cost of this trip until April 2004, after the federal probe was well under way.
Finally, the indictment alleges that Fumo directed Luchko, Eister and others, with Arnao's backing, to destroy e-mails and other electronic evidence on Fumo and Citizens Alliance computers in order to keep it from the FBI.
Supporters of Fumo stood by the embattled senator yesterday.
Senate Democratic leader Robert J. Mellow, D-Lackawanna, said Fumo could depend on his "continued support and friendship during this difficult time."