Former Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo is serving 61 months in prison on convictions for fraud and obstructing justice. He's now facing new legal action in Washington, this time brought by his former attorneys at BuckleySandler.
On October 31, the firm filed a motion (PDF) in District of Columbia Superior Court to compel arbitration, accusing Fumo of failing to honor the terms of their representation agreement to submit fee disputes to arbitration. According to the motion, Fumo owes the firm more than $400,000 in fees.
In the motion, the firm claims that Fumo did not respond to requests for payment and then denied ever agreeing to arbitration. In an affidavit submitted with the motion, BuckleySandler partner Samuel Buffone said that the firm made several attempts to reach Fumo and his lawyers about resolving the situation, to no avail.
Buffone and other BuckleySandler lawyers listed in the motion could not be reached today for comment. The motion lists Fumo's lawyer as Dion Rassias of The Beasley Firm in Philadelphia, but he could not be reached today to confirm his representation or comment.
A state senator in Pennsylvania since 1978, Fumo was convicted in 2009 by an Eastern District of Pennsylvania jury of 137 counts of fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice. He was originally sentenced to 55 months in prison, but that sentence was overturned after prosecutors appealed. Last November, he was resentenced to 61 months. Fumo is appealing that sentence before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Buffone and BuckleySandler began representing Fumo in February 2010, according to the motion. Buffone had previously represented Fumo in the case while he was a partner at Ropes & Gray, and continued that representation when he joined BuckleySandler in February 2010, according to the motion. At that time, the firm said that they entered into a representation agreement with Fumo that included the arbitration provision.
The firm said that despite its "extensive" work on Fumo's behalf related to his sentencing and the appeal of his conviction and sentence, Fumo refused to pay the $403,995 in fees he owed. Beginning in April 2012, according to the motion, the firm notified Fumo that they should go to arbitration to resolve the dispute, per their agreement. Buffone notified the Pennsylvania court in May that he was withdrawing from the case.
According to the motion, the firm last heard from Fumo's lawyer on September 7.
The case is before Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso. An initial scheduling conference is scheduled for February 8.