Posted on Tue, Nov. 18, 2008
By Craig R. McCoy / Inquirer Staff Writer
An ex-girlfriend of State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo took jurors yesterday on a detailed guided tour of his high-flying and coddled lifestyle, his rages and romantic messages, and his resolve to make others pay for his pleasures.
Though she insisted that she still loved Fumo, Dorothy Egrie-Wilcox spent 51/2 hours on the stand corroborating previous testimony about his turning government aides into personal servants.
And, at last, Egrie-Wilcox was revealed to be the source of what has become the iconic allegation in the case: the federal charge that Fumo boasted of spending “OPM,” or “other people’s money.”
“He used it quite a bit,” she testified. “When we’d go out to dinner, he would say, ‘Let’s use OPM.’ “
To back up her account, prosecutors showed jurors a 2004 e-mail in which the senator himself used the acronym while talking about buying an ornamental globe.
Fumo signed off by writing, “Love You.”
Egrie-Wilcox kept hundreds of such e-mails and turned them over to the FBI. Now they are evidence against the once-powerful Democrat.
Fumo, 65, and Egrie-Wilcox, 51, dated between 1999 and 2004. She said that during their time together, she watched as Fumo used his political aides or employees from the South Philadelphia nonprofit Citizens’ Alliance for Better Neighborhoods for all manner of personal errands and tasks.
They bought his groceries, maintained his properties, ferried his laundry, dumped his trash, planned his vacations, drove his youngest daughter to her weekly visitations with him, and more, she said.
Among their assignments was maintaining the spreadsheet for Fumo’s Christmas “wish list,” she said.
Prepared as a handy guide for friends and supporters who wanted to buy the senator something special for the holidays, the list included such varied items as a $2,000 Eskimo fur parka, a $29.50 brass shoehorn, and a $10,000 set of dueling pistols.
She told jurors that Fumo reveled in the perks of being a powerful politician. “It made him feel good,” she said.
As Fumo wrote to her in one e-mail, “This is such a wonderful city and I am treated so well here – parking wherever I want and getting into jammed restaurants whenever I want – I want to share it all with you.”
When the pair began dating – after his second marriage had fallen apart – Fumo e-mailed her to boast about his new state-leased Cadillac DeVille. In the message, Fumo added that a friend had gotten it pretty much right in saying, “Being a senator is the next best thing to royalty.”
Egrie-Wilcox enjoyed it all, too.
There were the flights on Fumo’s personal jet and the jaunts on his $500,000 Hinckley speedboat. And she was at his side for four summers when the couple, plus Fumo’s closest friends, cruised off Martha’s Vineyard or Florida on luxury motor yachts owned or leased by the Independence Seaport Museum. Fumo was a board member and steered state funding to the museum.
Federal prosecutors said the trips were a criminal fraud committed against the museum.
Fumo’s lawyer, Dennis J. Cogan, told the jury in his opening statement that the yacht cruises were a way for Fumo to sell others on the museum. Egrie-Wilcox dismissed that, saying the trips were purely “social.”
A blonde when she dated Fumo, Egrie-Wilcox, a former masseuse who now runs a floor business, had black hair when she testified for the prosecution yesterday. She wore pearls and a fitted black suit.
And the more damaging her testimony yesterday, the more dispassionate her tone became. As for Fumo, he sat expressionless, his hand on his chin.