Chaka Fattah Jr. Talks Gambling, His Congressman Dad, the IRS
It’s a crazy time to be Chaka Fattah Jr. He’s facing federal charges for tax evasion. He’s suing the IRS for $10 million (complaint below). And his dad, Congressman Chaka Fattah, is under investigation, too (as is his inner circle). We got the younger Fattah on the phone to talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of blackjack.
What is the status of your $10 million lawsuit against the IRS?
I am very happy to report that the court just issued a ruling allowing my case to proceed. The primary claim — which is a media leak to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Washington Times — the court allowed that claim to go to trial. What this means for me is that they will have to turn over discovery documents, and there will be a trial over this media leak. They damaged my reputation, and I am claiming that they owe me millions of dollars in damages.
Why in the world are you representing yourself in such a huge case?
I don’t have the resources to hire a lawyer.
But if you had a valid claim, I would think that any of a number of high-profile attorneys would step up to help you out, on a contingency basis.
Well, opportunities like that are starting to present themselves now, because of the ruling. The ruling shows that the case has merit. I believe that a major firm or attorney may take it now.
[Laughs] Anything is possible. Prior to the ruling, I received quotes for representation on the low end of $10,000 and on the high end upwards of $100,000. If I had the money, I would have written a check.
And where does the government’s case against you stand?
I expect the trial to happen next year sometime. I am out on bail, $50,000. I just signed a form. If I miss a hearing or fail to meet my other obligations with the court, then I would owe the government $50,000, and I would be put back in custody. I signed that form, but I don’t have any money, so it would just be another debt.
In its case, the government details large gambling debts that you incurred. Do you have a gambling problem?
What do you play?
And so you did owe a lot of money to the casinos?
Let’s see how best to say this. As I stated, when I was talking with Dom Giordano, I definitely played at both SugarHouse and Harrah’s Chester. But there was nothing inappropriate about any payments related to those casinos. There’s nothing illegal about going to SugarHouse.
No, but it does suggest that you have bad taste in casinos.
Well, I also played at the Borgata. I like the Borgata.
The Harrah’s Diamond Club card definitely got me benefits in Atlantic City, too. I’m not saying that I didn’t play heavy, but I played heavy based on my income. I won a lot of money at the casinos. I won $42,000 at SugarHouse in six days.
I made $15,000 a month in profits back then. Revenue-wise, I was getting $45,000 a month. After I paid my employees, that was like $23,000 to me. And it is my right to do whatever I wanted to do with that money.
With the recent increase in focus on the investigation surrounding your father, what are conversations in the Fattah family like right now?
You know, the conversations are pleasant, although I don’t want to say that word. The conversations, I would just say something like my family remains supportive. When all the facts are clear, in reference to my indictment, I think people will have a clearer picture.
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Below, Chaka Fattah Jr.’s complaint against the IRS.
The ruling allowing Fattah Jr.’s case to proceed: