Depressing to see Chaka Fattah get 10 years, for what a white Republican would get 5 years, with all but 2 weeks suspended…and a hand slap.
Doesn’t mean I am unhappy to see him convicted, and sentenced for a long term, as his fraud hurt the community he represented, and amateurish even by the pathetic standard of the US House. Enjoy your next few years in Club Fed!
Fattah, 60, served 22 years in Congress before losing a Democratic primary in April.
Fattah was convicted in June on a number of federal corruption charges, including bribery, racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and filing false statements. The long-running criminal scheme was related to paying back a loan from Fattah’s unsuccessful run for Philadelphia mayor in 2007.
The Pennsylvania Democrat’s son, Chaka Fattah Jr., is already in prison on bank and tax fraud charges. The younger Fattah is serving a five-year sentence.
“Those in high places will certainly know what happens in this courtroom today,” said U.S. District Judge Harvery Bartle, III, as he sentenced Fattah, according to WPVI, a Philadelphia TV station.
Bartle noted that Fattah and his wife, a TV news anchor, made more than $500,000 in combined income, placing them in the top 1 percent of Americans.
“While you have done much good, you also engaged in grave and widespread criminal activity,” Bartle added. “You abused your trust, time and time again.”
Fattah told Bartle that he had helped “tens of millions of people” during his time in office, despite the crimes he’d been convicted of committing.
“I’ve helped tens of millions of people,” Fattah said. “[That] has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.”
While it was one the harshest sentences ever handed out to a one-time member of Congress, federal prosecutors had asked for a longer term behind bars. The Justice Department wanted Fattah incarcerated for 17 to 21 years.
Fattah was a former state lawmaker and Philadelphia official who was elected to Congress in 1994. He won a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, where he was able to steer millions of dollars in earmarks back home.
Yet despite his safe congressional seat, Fattah always wanted to be a power player back home in Philadelphia, where he was born, and it was this desire that ultimately led to his downfall and federal conviction.
Fattah’s criminal acts were part of a years-long scheme related to his unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Philadelphia. Fattah and several of his co-defendants, who include former campaign and congressional aides, obtained an illegal $1 million loan for him during the 2007 mayor’s race. Once he lost that race and faced a large debt, Fattah and his inner circle illegally used federal and charitable funds to help repay the loan. Fattah and the other co-conspirators submitted false billing statements to his mayoral campaign in order to keep the loan secret.
In addition, Fattah received bribes from Herbert Vederman, a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia who served as an aide to his mayoral campaign. Fattah used the money to pay personal expenses, including his taxes.
In return, Fattah reportedly pushed for an ambassadorial position for Vederman or for appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission, including hand-delivering a letter to President Barack Obama on the issue. Fattah also hired Vederman’s girlfriend in his Capitol Hill office.
The FBI spent years investigating Fattah, and it long looked as if he would escape federal indictment. But he was charged in 2015, and then convicted on all counts the following year.