A longtime friend of ex-Senator Vincent Fumo has been denied by the Superior Court of
Pennsylvania the job of overseeing a multi-million dollar irrevocable trust Fumo set up for his daughter in 2006.
The 2-1 decision by a three judge panel at the state court affirms the decision made in 2013 by Philadelphia County Orphans Court Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe that removed Fumo's hand-picked choice, Anthony Repici, and replaced him with his daughter's godmother, Sylvia DiBona.
According to the opinion, Repici's selection was a self-serving move made by Fumo to avoid paying back a $1.4 million loan he took out against the trust in 2010 shortly before starting a 55-month sentence in federal prison following his 2009 conviction on 137 counts of mail fraud and scamming the Pennsylvania Senate and two non-profit groups.
"Appointment of an alter ego such as Repici would frustrate the purpose of the trust agreement by exalting (Vincent Fumo's) interests over (his) daughter's," wrote Superior Court Judge Patricia Jenkins.
Fumo created two trusts for his children, Vincent and Allison, in 2006, giving each 49.5 ownership of the Fumo Family Limited Partnership, with family friend Roseanne Pauciello named the trustee. The trust was scheduled to dissolve when the children turned 40. Vincent Fumo, Jr. turned 40 in 2009, receiving $533,000 in assets, but his younger sister was only 16 at the time of the trust's establishment.
On Jan. 22, 2010, Fumo received a $1.4 million loan against the trust, agreeing to pay an interest rate of 5 percent, or $5,833.33 per month until the loan's maturity date on Jan. 31, 2013. In October 2010, the loan's terms were rewritten to extend the maturity date to Feb. 1, 2015, and amortizing the remaining balance over the next 20 years at a 4.5 percent interest rate.
The opinion says records show that Pauciello did not participate or consent to the loan. On Sept. 8, 2011, Pauciello resigned from the trustee position, followed a month later by her successor, Michael Rubin. According to the terms, the resigning trustee had the power to appoint a successor, and Pauciello tapped Samuel Bennett, the brother-in-law of Fumo's fiancee, as the new trustee in October 2012.
Three days later, Fumo's daughter objected to Bennett's appointment and filed a petition to terminate the trust. In November 2012, she also filed an emergency petition seeking the emergency appointment of an interim trustee to replace Bennett. A Rule to Show Cause hearing was scheduled for December, and the judge ordered a stay on all proceedings until the court date. However, the president of the FFLP modified Fumo's loan again, lowering the rate to 2.38 percent and extending the maturity date to Jan. 22, 2020.
Vincent Fumo, Jr., visited his father in prison in April 2013, and was told by Fumo that it was his children's obligation to give everything in the trust to their father because he was broke, and that he would win at all costs.
In response to Vincent Fumo, Jr.'s testimony, Orphans Court Judge O'Keefe wrote, "I find that [Fumo] will never consent to the appointment of any successor trustee who will take actions contrary to his interests."
Bennett resigned as trustee in June 2013 and appointed Repici his successor. Repici has been Fumo's friend for 50 years and personal physician for 25 years. He is also an attorney, the Superior Court opinion says, but he has never managed a trust fund.
The Orphan's Court declared the appointment of Repici null and appointed DiBona as the fund's trustee, a decision upheld by the Superior Court.