You can’t have a RICO prosecution without alleged co-conspirators. So who have the Feds targeted in addition to Chaka Fattah?
Herbert Vederman, 69, Palm Beach, Florida.
Biography: A politically potent lobbyist with strong ties to former Gov. Ed Rendell, Vederman is the other big fish in this indictment (below). Vederman was a former clothing executive who joined Mayor Ed Rendell’s administration as an unpaid deputy mayor. He headed up economic development for the city for a time, and played a role in a 1995 City Hall scandal called “boobgate,” which involved strippers and L&I, because this is Philadelphia. He’s contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to Rendell’s political campaigns. Later, Vederman was a lobbyist for hire in the government relations division of Stradley Ronon, the law firm. He also served as finance director for the Fattah for Congress Committee for more than three years.
Role: Vederman is accused of giving Fattah gifts and cash “in exchange for a series of official acts by Fattah on Vederman’s behalf.” The indictment alleges Vederman was seeking an ambassadorship or appointment to a United States Trade Commission, and it claims Fattah and his staff “pursued a federal appointment” for him all the way up to President Obama. Fattah is also alleged to have hired Vederman’s girlfriend onto his Congressional staff. In exchange, Vederman supplied cash and “other items of value.” The indictment specifically cites an “$18,000 bribe,” allegedly disguised as payment for a bogus car sale.
Karen Nicholas, 57, Williamstown, New Jersey.
Biography: CEO of the Educational Advancement Alliance, a non-profit founded by Fattah. Former aide in Fattah’s Philadelphia Congressional office.
Alleged role: The indictment claims Nicholas misspent $50,000 in federal grant funds intended for an education conference on a political consultant, attorney fees and in checks to herself.
Robert Brand, 69, Philadelphia.
Biography: Brand is the founder of Solutions for Progress, a consulting firm, and the husband of a former Fattah staffer.
Alleged role: The indictment says Brand had his company execute fake contracts to conceal the passthrough of $600,000 of federal grant monies and charitable contributions from the Educational Advancement Alliance to repay an illegal $1 million loan made to Fattah and some associates by a wealthy supporter of the Congressman during his 2007 campaign for mayor.
Bonnie Bowser, 59, Philadelphia.
Biography: Chief of staff of Fattah’s Congressional office in Philadelphia, and treasurer of the Fattah for Mayor and Fattah for Congress candidate committees. She’s been a member of Fattah’s staff since 2002.
Alleged role: The indictment claims Bowser was part of a “scheme to violate the local campaign finance laws during Fattah’s race for mayor of the City of Philadelphia, in or around April 2007.”
Biography: Unidentified by the Feds (so far), but presumed to be wealthy and powerful.
Alleged role: Person D loaned Fattah and some associates the $1 million, according to the indictment. Near the end of 2007, “Person D experienced acute financial difficulty” and tried to collect on $600,000 he or she was still owed by Fattah. It was that demand that prompted the repayment of the debt using federal grant funds and charitable contributions to the Educational Advancement Alliance, the indictment says.
- Gregory Naylor, Fattah’s former chief of staff and a savvy political operative. He pleaded guilty in August 2014 for charges connected to the concealment of that $600,000.
- Chaka Fattah Jr., the congressman’s son, who will go on trial later this year on fraud charges.
- Tom Lindenfeld, a talented D.C. political operative, who pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November 2014. He’d been accused by prosecutors of conspiring with Fattah to illegally use a federal environmental earmark to fund Lindenfeld’s campaign work on Fattah’s behalf.
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