A Democratic Pennsylvania lawmaker, first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, was forced to resign immediately on Thursday, over a years-long criminal scheme that included stealing money from both the federal government and nonprofit organizations to pay off a $1 million illegal campaign loan.
Rep. Chaka Fattah, 59 was convicted June 21, 2016 of federal racketeering, bribery, money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and filing false statements. His sentencing is scheduled for October 4 and officials say he faces as much as 20 years in prison.
Fellow Democrats have been quiet, for the most part. Bob Brady, a colleague who had endorsed Fattah’s reelection amid his pending trial, simply said, “It’s a shame to have something like this happen.” Fattah lost the Democratic primary, so his term would have ended in January.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Fattah’s service, saying he has “fought for America’s hard-working families for more than 20 years.”
Prior to his indictment in July 2015, Politico reports that Fattah was the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees funding for federal agencies, including the Justice Department. After charges were filed against him, he stepped down from that role.
Fattah’s son, Chaka Fattah Jr. is already serving a 5-year prison sentence for bank and tax fraud charges.
Several other co-defendants are involved in the schemes as well, including Fattah’s former campaign and congressional aides.
Fattah obtained an illegal $1 million loan, then used federal and nonprofit funds to help repay the debt, submitting false billing statements to his campaign to keep the loan secret.
Fattah accepted bribes from Herbert Vederman, a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia, using the money to pay his personal expenses, and in return, he gave Obama a letter, asking for an ambassador position for Vederman or an appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission.
In all, the 22-count federal conviction will put one “lawmaker” behind bars for years. Nancy Pelosi reportedly called his conviction “heartbreaking.”
An opinion writer on Philly.com called it “blood-boiling.”
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