5 Unexpected Moments at Chip Fattah’s Trial

The congressman's son provokes a surprising revelation.

FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2014 file photo Chaka Fattah Jr., walks from the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2014 file photo Chaka Fattah Jr., walks from the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Chaka Fattah’s son, Chaka Fattah Jr., who goes by Chip, is on trial for tax fraud. Acting as his own lawyer (though he’s not a lawyer), Fattah Jr. has now called for a mistrial due to a surprising revelation heard in court this week. Below, the details on that revelation and a few other unexpected moments.

1. The FBI leaked info to the Inquirer. The lead FBI investigator into Fattah’s fraud case testified yesterday that in 2012 he alerted an Inquirer reporter that there’d be an FBI raid on Chip Fattah’s condo. The Inquirer’s Jeremy Roebuck writes:

Under questioning from prosecutors, FBI Special Agent Richard Haag said he contacted reporter Martha Woodall during the investigation to learn more about Fattah’s work at a for-profit education firm. In exchange, he said, he gave Woodall limited information about the federal probe. He said he did not share any grand jury material.

That’s the kind of tip reporters drool over, but what it means is that…

2. Fattah’s sense of aggrieved self-righteousness may, in fact, be justified . Last year Fattah filed a lawsuit against the FBI alleging that an agent’s leak and the subsequent press coverage of the raid on his Ritz-Carlton residence compromised his credibility and reputation, thereby preventing him from effectively promoting his business. That argument has a lot more weight now that the leak has been acknowledged. Both Chaka and Chip have been claiming that their prosecution is motivated by personal hostility. Given Haag’s admission yesterday — and given the fact that he is also handling the case against Fattah Sr. — that claim seems less delusional.

3. Le tipster, c’est moi. Speaking of droolworthy tips, in 2012, just a few days after the condo raid, the Philadelphia School District got an email from an anonymous tipster who claimed to have damning information about the administration of Delaware Valley High School, an education company. The tipster was hoping to get money in exchange for his revelations that DVHS was misappropriating funds. Imagine the District’s surprise when the tipster turned out to be…Chip Fattah. It seems that Fattah thought he’d be able to make a bunch of allegations about DVHS’ owner without implicating himself, despite the fact that he was DVHS’ Chief Financial Officer. Clearly, Fattah has seen too many episodes of Law & Order.

4. No, really, he’s seen too many episodes of Law & Order. This isn’t so much of a surprise as it is a lesson: Never let your roommate see the real you, no matter how often he calls you “bro.” Albert Guerraty, Fattah’s former suitemate at Drexel, gave some of the trial’s most colorful testimony, saying he lived large but didn’t do much work. From the Inquirer:

Most days, he said, the son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) could be found in his off-campus Henry Avenue apartment “watching Law and Order, laying on the couch, and eating a Fiesta Pizza.”

“I don’t mean every once in a while,” Guerraty testified. “I mean every day – like all the time.”

5. Fattah says Ed Rendell will be his first defense witness. Which is a pretty strong start — at least from an entertainment perspective. We have no idea what he’s planning to say, but there will almost certainly be some unexpected loose-cannon moment during Rendell’s testimony. We can’t wait.

[Update 4:30 p.m.] Rendell did, in fact, take the stand and said he had a good business relationship with Fattah, whom he hired to provide photography for his political campaigning. “All I know is what he did for me,” Rendell said afterward, according to NewsWorks. “And he did a good job. And he was a charming young man who people liked on the campaign trail. Not only did he do a good job with the actual substantive photography, but he handled people very nicely.”