The Chaka Fattah Verdict Is In: He’s Guilty

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Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., leaves the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., leaves the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

A jury has found U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah guilty on all counts, including participating in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bribery, mail fraud, bank fraud, and falsification of records.

Three of his co-defendants, Robert Brand, Karen Nicholas and Herbert Vederman, were convicted of RICO, among other things.

Federal prosecutors said Fattah used taxpayer money and charitable donations to pay back an illegal $1 million loan[1] to his unsuccessful mayoral campaign nearly a decade ago. Fattah has long maintained his innocence and claimed that he is a victim of a vendetta. After being indicted in July, he said, “This has been an eight-year effort by some in the Department of Justice to link my public service career to some form of wrongdoing.”

Chaka Fattah Sr convicted of all charges.

— U.S. Attorney EDPA (@USAO_EDPA) June 21, 2016[2]

Outside of the courthouse on Tuesday, Fattah declined to say whether he would resign or if the verdict surprised him. Afterward, he released a statement:

“This is an extraordinarily difficult day for me and my family. A jury has decided that based on the evidence presented to them that I am guilty of charges presented by the government. Today’s decision notwithstanding, it has been my privilege to serve the constituents of the Second Congressional District for over 20 years. We have done important work and passed legislation that has helped tens of millions of young people achieve their dream of a college education, ensured that hundreds of thousands of families facing foreclosure have been able to remain in their homes, and millions suffering from brain related diseases now have hope that a cure or a treatment is closer today than yesterday. I continue to be proud of that record. While today’s outcome isn’t what we had hoped, I respect our nation’s judicial system. I want to thank the people of the Second Congressional District for the honor of serving them.”

Fattah’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 4th.

“The corruption demonstrated by Congressman Fattah and his co-defendants is yet another sad example of the type of behavior that corrodes citizens’ faith in their government,” FBI Special Agent- in-Charge William Sweeney said in a statement. “The FBI is firmly committed to ensuring that public officials and their co-conspirators who choose to use their positions for personal gain rather than provide the honest services the community rightly expects will be investigated and brought to justice.”

Fattah served in U.S. House, representing Philadelphia’s 2nd Congressional District, for 21 years. He lost the primary election in April[3] to state Rep. Dwight Evans, his first serious opponent since taking office in 1995. That marked the end of an era: Fattah had been the leader of mini-political machine, which helped to elect state Sen. Vincent Hughes, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and others throughout the years.

Today’s verdict also completes the Fattah family’s fall from grace. The Congressman’s son, Chaka “Chip” Fattah, was found guilty of 22 counts in 2015[4] for defrauding the school district and banks, and sentenced to five years in prison. The Congressman’s wife, Renee Chenault-Fattah, stopped working as an anchor for NBC 10[5] in February.

Convicted U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah exits the federal courthouse in Philadelphia immediately after a jury found him guilty on all charges. Photo | Maria McGeary

Convicted U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah exits the federal courthouse in Philadelphia immediately after a jury found him guilty on all charges. | Photo by Maria McGeary

Follow @hollyotterbein[6] on Twitter.

Additional reporting by Maria McGeary.

Endnotes:
  1. used taxpayer money and charitable donations to pay back an illegal $1 million loan: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2015/07/29/chaka-fattah-indicted/
  2. June 21, 2016: https://twitter.com/USAO_EDPA/status/745292812795674624?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  3. lost the primary election in April: https://www.phillymag.com/citified/2016/04/26/dwight-evans-wins-chaka-fattah/
  4. was found guilty of 22 counts in 2015: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2015/11/05/chaka-fattah-jr-verdict-guilty/
  5. stopped working as an anchor for NBC 10: http://articles.philly.com/2016-02-25/news/70908104_1_renee-chenault-fattah-indictment-nbc10
  6. @hollyotterbein: https://twitter.com/hollyotterbein

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/citified/2016/06/21/chaka-fattah-verdict/