The son of a veteran Philadelphia congressman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison on bank and tax fraud convictions.
Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was convicted in November of 22 of 23 counts that he misspent loans and some of the nearly $1 million in education funds he got as a school management subcontractor.
Fattah, who represented himself, contended during trial that the government had built its case on a "deck of cards." He said authorities targeted him because of his big-spending lifestyle and out of a desire to hurt his father.
Chaka Fattah Sr., an 11-term Democratic congressman, is charged in a separate case with misusing federal grants and charitable donations to repay an illegal $1 million campaign loan, funneling campaign money toward his son's student loan, and accepting bribes. He accused federal authorities of trying to smear him and his family's "good name."
Fattah Jr., who showed no reaction as he was sentenced, was also ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution and spend five years on supervised release after serving his prison term.
He told the judge Tuesday that he had tried to be a law-abiding citizen and had never been in court on a criminal matter before. He said he had lost money, friends and a reputation he said "was good."
"I didn't know anything I did was a violation of the law," he said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III, however, said Fattah Jr. "had many opportunities and advantages that most young people could only dream about," and made "bad choices of your own free will."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said after sentencing that Fattah Jr. had "lied and cheated the IRS in a scheme to defraud the school district of significant amounts of money."
He said the judge agreed that "the evidence against Mr. Fattah was overwhelming and gave him a sentence that was deserved."
The elder Fattah disagreed. "And now they've taken my only son, and I guess they suggested this was justice," he told reporters outside the courtroom. "I'll leave it for others to decide."
A judge rejected a request last week by Fattah Sr.'s lawyers to be removed from his case, saying that the congressman hasn't paid them in months.
Chaka Fattah Jr. sentenced to 5 years in prison