Will Citizens' Alliance Survive Fumo?

Citizens’ Alliance may survive its stormy past as the courts have appointed the head of the Center City District to determine its future.

By Amanda L. Snyder
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jan. 7, 2010

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While the termination of the organization is still an option, a restructuring is more probable, Levy said.

“It is likely that it can restart up again, but probably not over such a large area,” he said.

Fumo was sentenced to 55 months for 137 counts of fraud, obstruction of justice, tax evasion and conspiracy, while Arnao is serving a year and a day for 45 counts of defrauding the nonprofit, obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return.

DiCicco, of the 1300 block of South Fifth Street; Joseph A. Russo, of the 700 block of Federal Street, a former chairman, president, secretary, treasurer and director; John J. Sfrisi, of the 2800 block of South Marvine Street, previously a secretary and director; Jeffrey R. Travelina, of the 1200 block of Shunk Street, a past treasurer and director; John P. Travelina, of the 2100 block of Sorrento Court, an ex-director; Amel M. Hammad, of the 1400 block of South 13th Street, an ex-director; Patricia A. Evers, of the 300 block of Tree Street, a past director; the Rev. Gary T. Pacitti, of the 1500 block of South 10th Street, a previous director; Todd L. and Kenneth L. Baritz, both of Center City and former directors; and Albert Mezzaroba of Quakertown, a past director, were named in the state’s civil suit, as were Fumo and Arnao.

Nov. 23, the state filed an amended complaint. The U.S. District Attorney’s Office estimated Fumo defrauded about $2 million from the Senate, and $1 million each from Citizens’ Alliance and the Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd. However, the Attorney General estimates about $1.9 million in nonprofit funds were misused plus $1.8 million in investments lost, according to the updated court documents. Fumo already has paid $676,000 to the federal court pending the outcome of his appeal.

“We’re trying to recover as much as we can to the extent we can,” Pacella said.

Last month, all slapped with the civil suit denied the allegations, but agreed to a list of terms to settle the case “to avoid the costs and expenses of litigation in order to preserve Citizens’ Alliance’s important charitable assets and restore the public benefits,” according to the consent decree.

In addition to Levy steering the nonprofit, those who were on the board at the time — Russo, Sfrisi, John and Jeffrey Travelina, Evers and Todd and Kenneth Baritz — agreed to relinquish their positions, according to the court document.

The original complaint aimed to force the organization to account for its assets and to be liable for misused funds, as well as remove all of its officers, but with the terms set and signed by each defendant and his or her lawyer, all three of those counts were dropped. However, the charge calling for the revocation of the nonprofit status is pending per Levy’s assessment.

“I would hope that it would come back in some capacity, but I just don’t know. I don’t think it can come back in the way it was, but I don’t want to say no. Part of it was relying on grants that Fumo was able to get,” Riley said, adding 1st District Councilman Frank DiCicco, who was a co-founder of the group, also secured grants for the organization.

“It’s just necessary to focus on what’s good and to preserve what is good about the organization,” added Levy.

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1. I.M. Screwed said... on Mar 1, 2010 at 02:13AM

“All that is great, but how about the people who are really effected by to gross mismanagement that went on there? Let's talk about tenants who got NO services for the last year from their landlord because everyone who made any decisions was Indicted or quit. I was a victim of Vince and his associates by way of our well organized Dept of L & I who informed me that my 20,000 sq. ft. building was zoned RESIDENTIAL!!!
Nobody dared to cross Fumo, and because of this, their tenants now find themselves fighting an uphill battle because the folks at Citizens Alliance bent and twisted the rules and laws to fit their needs. Now the tenants are left pleading to unaffected city officials about the mess they have been put into by self serving people who nolonger have the power to correct the things they have messed up.
Sell the whole thing Levy, and set us free.”

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