Philadelphia – Former Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr., 60, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving several schemes intended to further his political and financial interests by misappropriating federal, charitable and campaign funds, among other things.
Fattah was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who also ordered Fattah to pay $600,000 in restitution and to forfeit $14,500. On June 21, 2016, Fattah was convicted of participating in racketeering, bribery, wire fraud, honest services fraud and money laundering conspiracies, and for bribery, mail fraud and money laundering.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Fattah and certain associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter for his failed 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia, and disguised the funds as a loan to a consulting company. After he lost the election, Fattah returned $400,000 of unused campaign funds to the donor and arranged for Educational Advancement Alliance (EAA), a non-profit entity founded and controlled by Fattah, to repay the remaining $600,000 using charitable and federal grant funds that passed through two other companies, including one run by co-defendant Robert Brand. To conceal the contribution and repayment scheme, Fattah, his co-conspirators, and others created sham contracts and made false entries in accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements.
Following his election defeat, Fattah also sought to extinguish approximately $130,000 in campaign debt owed to a political consultant by agreeing to arrange for the award of federal grant funds to the consultant. Fattah directed the consultant to apply for a $15 million grant (which ultimately he did not receive) on behalf of a then-non-existent non-profit entity. In exchange for Fattah’s efforts to arrange the award, the consultant agreed to forgive the campaign debt.
In addition, Fattah misappropriated funds from his mayoral and congressional campaigns to repay his son’s student loan debt. To execute the scheme, Fattah arranged for his campaigns to make payments to a political consulting company, which the company used to make 34 successful loan payments on behalf of Fattah’s son, totaling approximately $23,000, between 2007 and 2011.
Beginning in 2008, Fattah communicated with individuals in the legislative and executive branches in an effort to secure for co-defendant Herbert Vederman an ambassadorship or an appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission. In exchange, Vederman provided money and other items of value to Fattah. As part of this scheme, the defendants sought to conceal an $18,000 bribe payment from Vederman to Fattah by disguising it as a payment for a sham car sale.
Fattah’s four co-defendants Vederman, Brand, Karen Nicholas and Bonnie Bowser were convicted alongside Fattah for charges in connection with the schemes on June 21, 2016. Judge Bartle also sentenced Vederman today to 24 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Dec. 13, 2016 for Brand and Nicholas and Dec. 14, 2016 for Bowser.