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

To the extent that Vincent II places Christian at the center of this plot, it dovetails with the other major get-Vince theory — the one that pegs John Dougherty, not the Meo clan, as Christian’s co-conspirator. Frank DiCicco told me a story. When DiCicco was appointed to the Port Authority board in 2004, he sat next to Doc at his first meeting, and Doc nudged his shoulder and showed DiCicco his BlackBerry. On the screen was an e-mail. DiCicco says it went something like: Dear John. Over the next few weeks I will not be that available. I will be in Washington D.C., working on the Bush-Cheney team. Signed, your pal, Christian Marrone. Says DiCicco, “We all started realizing: Doc is gloating. This guy is my guy. He’s the guy to bring the Senator down. And he’s my guy.”

Doc isn’t talking, but a person who has done political work for Doc’s union, Local 98, confirms that within the union, “It was common knowledge that Marrone had some hand in guiding the FBI. … Doc has a very good sense of aggressive people trying to advance themselves, and bringing them in.” The speculation here is that Doc would have promised to help Christian raise money to run for political office if, in exchange, Christian dimed out Vince to the feds. Christian’s brothers say this is absurd. “Why wouldn’t Dougherty do it himself?” says Michael Marrone, the priest, who has known Doc longer than Christian has. “John is a person who respects family. … John’s not like that.”

As for Vincent II’s allegations of a plot, they’re “unmitigated nonsense,” in Joe Meo’s words. According to the Meos — who have never spoken to the media before, and who reluctantly handed me a five-page statement in response to Vincent II’s allegations — this all grew out of Vincent II’s fight with his father on Y2K. Vincent II was convinced that when the calendar flipped, the world’s computers would shut down. “He was preparing for Armageddon,” says Susan. The family was vacationing down in Florida. Vincent II was stockpiling food. He even got his father to buy a generator. Of course, Y2K was a dud, and Vince mocked his son. Over the next two years, as Vincent II struggled to find himself, Vince reached out to Susan via e-mail, asking for help reconnecting with his son. And Susan would respond with detailed suggestions. The Meos weren’t out to get Vince. They were trying to help the poor bastard — which is how the Cosi meeting came about, they say. “Christian was being a friend to Vincent and reached out to him,” Susan writes. “Not to discuss Vince, but to help Vincent as a brother would. Obviously, Vincent misunderstood.” (Vincent II says his falling-out with his father wasn’t over Y2K, but refuses to elaborate.)