For criminal-defense attorneys who specialize in Congress, 2015 has turned into quite a year.
First, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) was indicted and convicted. Two months later, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), facing an investigation, was forced to resign. A month after that, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted. A month after that, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was indicted.
Today, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia reports on the latest addition to the growing list.
A longtime Philadelphia congressman was indicted Wednesday in a racketeering case stemming from the alleged misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, charitable and campaign funds after his failed 2007 run for mayor.Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, 58, and four associates were charged with bribery; conspiracy to commit wire, honest services, bank and mail fraud; money laundering and other charges.
Fattah, who has been the subject of a federal investigation for quite a while, told reporters this morning, “We have not received the indictment. I just talked to my attorney in Philadelphia and we have not had the chance to review it, but I did hear a little bit about it and all I want to say is that I’ve spent my time helping people.” The Pennsylvania Democrat added that he’s “going to let my attorney – a small one-man shop in Philadelphia – handle this matter.”
A Roll Call report added some additional context to the allegations:
The indictment alleges that in connection with his failed mayoral bid, Fattah and his associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter and disguised the funds as a loan to a consulting company, then created sham contracts and made false accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements.In addition, the indictment alleges that after his defeat in the mayoral election, Fattah 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. According to the allegations in the indictment, Fattah directed the consultant to apply for a $15 million grant, which he did not ultimately receive, on behalf of a then non-existent nonprofit entity. In exchange for Fattah’s efforts to arrange the award of the funds to the nonprofit, the consultant allegedly agreed to forgive the debt owed by the campaign.The indictment further alleges that Fattah misappropriated funds from his mayoral and congressional campaigns to repay approximately $23,000 of his son’s student loan debt.
The Justice Department’s official statement on the congressman’s indictment is available online here.
Looking ahead, I heard from a source in Philadelphia this morning who said Darrell Clarke, the current City Council president, is eyeing a possible congressional campaign in this district, no matter what Fattah decides to do.