Crime

Democrat Congressman Gets 10 Years For Racketeering

| by Ray Brown

Former Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Dec. 12 for racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

Fattah, 60, was convicted in June in a case built around an illegal $1 million loan he orchestrated for his mayoral run in Philadelphia, reported CBS News. That case revealed an array of other misdeeds, including using federal grant money intended for an education program to repay his son's $23,000 college tuition debt and taking an $18,000 bribe to try to help a friend become an ambassador.

The $18,000 was used to put a down payment on a vacation home for Fattah and his wife, a former Philadelphia news anchor.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle described Fattah's actions as “astonishing” given that he and his wife had a combined annual income of more than $500,000. 

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“For someone so interested in advancing education for the disadvantaged, you had the temerity to steal from the Educational Advancement Alliance, a nonprofit supported by government funds,” Bartle said, according to CBS News.

“In committing his crimes and directing the criminal activity of others, Fattah sought to strengthen himself politically, enrich himself and his co-conspirators, steal from nonprofits and the federal taxpayers, and defraud his campaigns, their creditors and a credit union,” prosecutors wrote to the judge in their request for a harsh penalty, reported The Washington Post.

Prosecutors added that it was “difficult to overstate the seriousness of Fattah’s crimes given the unique position of trust that elected officials hold in our democratic system.”

“I’ve helped tens of millions of people,” Fattah said, according to CBS News. “[That] has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.”

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Fattah's son, Chaka “Chip” Fattah, Jr., is currently serving a five-year sentence for related charges in an overlapping case in which he was convicted of fraudulently obtaining business loans he used for personal use.

Sources: CBS News, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Center for American Progress/Flickr

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