The Betrayal

For 30 years, as Vince Fumo ruled Philadelphia politics, we knew how he operated: You were either on his side or he’d try to destroy you. The behind-the-scenes run-up to his federal trial this month reveals something new: His family works in exactly the same way

And now Vince is out of good options. If a jury finds him guilty, he could go away for up to 10 years. If he pleads guilty and avoids a trial altogether, he’ll probably still have to do some jail time. His best chance may be to double down on all the old traits and fight like hell to win at any cost. This would mean closing the door on one half of his family: never talking to Nicole or Christian again, never seeing his grandkids before he dies. (Nicole and Christian have two young daughters; Vince has never met them.) It would mean finishing the project that his partisans have already begun — portraying his son-in-law as a buffoonish rat and his daughter as an ungrateful shrew. Team Vince hopes that focusing attention on what it considers Christian Marrone’s act of betrayal will obscure the question of Vince’s own betrayal — of his office, his constituents and his oath.

But Vince has no one to blame but himself. Nobody forced him to live his life like a German opera, sucking everyone he loved into a weird whirlwind and spitting them back out, angry and confused, struggling to put their lives back together. Nobody forced him to shatter the relationships that even now, on the  eve of his trial, his son says he’s trying to salvage. Vince is Vince, and that means he’s capable of feeling heartbroken about how it all went bad with his daughter even as he apparently authorizes his surrogates to attack the character of her husband — and, by extension, Nicole.

 “It’s just this sad thing,” says Vincent II at our lunch. “It’s awful. … Even recently, he was looking through some e-mails that he had sent my sister. He was like, where did I go wrong? He was still upset that he didn’t have a good relationship with his daughter.” Vince’s son chews on a straw, looks into the distance, and smiles. “He’s painted as the bad guy, but he’s the one still trying to put his family back together after all these years.”

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