The Philadelphia Inquirer editorializes that U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter “blew it” when he gave light sentences to former State Sen. Vincent Fumo and co-conspirator Ruth Arnao in a major political corruption case. “By issuing what amounts to wrist slaps, given the crimes, Buckwalter sent a message that there is a separate justice system for the powerful,” the neewspaper says. The 55-month sentence Buckwalter gave Fumo was far below the original pre-sentence guidelines of 21 to 27 years. For Arnao the judge ignored federal guidelines of 70 to 87 months in prison and randomly issued a sentence of one year and a day.
The Inquirer noted that the judge took shots at the media, complaining that “the newspaper was hyping the story and pressuring him to give a long sentence.” The Inquirer’s response: “Blaming the media is a tired and classic defense when there’s little else to grasp. Prosecutors credited The Inquirer for breaking the story that led to the investigation, indictment, and conviction of Fumo and Arnao.”