Corbett files charges against Fumo's Citizens Alliance

Keith Loria Apr. 9, 2009, 12:00pm

Tom Corbett (R)

PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has brought charges against a non-profit organization that disgraced former state Sen. Vincent Fumo started in 1991.

The suit looks for the Commonwealth Court to revoke the corporate franchise of Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, the nonprofit organization and distribute its assets to an appropriate successor or successors.

A civil investigation of Fumo and former Citizens Alliance Executive Director Ruth Arano began in March 2007, after federal indictments listed excessive expenditures for non charitable purposes.

Both were found guilty by a federal jury last month of conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice and tax violations. The Republican AG seeks to permanently remove Citizens Alliance officers and directors and appoint new individuals to serve going forward.

Corbett said the lawsuit alleges that Fumo and Arnao unlawfully diverted approximately $1.9 million of Citizens stated charitable funds for personal use and political advantage. The nonprofit allegedly solicited both public grants and private donations to fund its activities.

"The purpose of Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods was to promote the public health, housing, safety and education in Philadelphia," Corbett said. "Using nonprofit money to fund a lavish lifestyle and finance political campaigns is unacceptable."

The lawsuit claims that none of the officers or directors of the nonprofit ever objected or took action to prevent the massive waste of the organization's assets. These individuals also allegedly failed to oversee the investments Fumo and Arnao made on behalf of the organization.

"The misuse of nonprofit organization funds is an area of concern to my office," Corbett said. "We will continue to aggressively pursue the abuse of nonprofit and taxpayer money, whether it is a large organization in Philadelphia or a small local nonprofit."

As part of its lawsuit the attorney general's office seeks to get the defendants to provide a complete and accurate accounting of their administration of Citizens Alliance assets from 1998 through 2009.

The lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg.

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