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Trial opens for Phila. senator

PHILADELPHIA — A powerful state senator had everything he could ever want, but used “other people’s money” to live a lavish lifestyle and pursue his political agenda because he was driven by “greed, power and a profound sense of entitlement,” a federal prosecutor said to begin the lawmaker’s corruption trial Wednesday.

Sen. Vincent Fumo was obsessed with money and collected expensive power tools the way some people collect stamps or coins, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pease told jurors in an 80-minute opening statement.

Fumo’s defense lawyer, Dennis Cogan, countered that the lawmaker worked 24/7 for his constituents and that it was therefore impossible for him to differentiate between his private and work lives. It was hard to separate Fumo the man, Fumo the politician and Fumo the legislator, Cogan said.

“When you work like he works, it’s inextricably intertwined,” he told the jurors.

Fumo, 65, is accused of using $3.5 million in funds from the Senate, a maritime museum and a nonprofit to fund an extravagant lifestyle and a potent political machine.

Fumo was once the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and helped fill the rosters of city and state government with people loyal to him. He also is credited with writing numerous pieces of legislation in Harrisburg since he was elected to the state Senate in 1978.

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