Chaka Fattah Jr. convicted of fraud charges

Friday, November 6, 2015
VIDEO: Fattah convicted of fraud
A veteran Philadelphia congressman's son was found guilty Thursday of federal bank and tax fraud charges.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A veteran Philadelphia congressman's son was found guilty Thursday of federal bank and tax fraud charges.

Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was convicted of 22 of 23 counts alleging that he misspent loans and some of the nearly $1 million in education funds he got as a school management subcontractor. The jury acquitted him of one count of tax fraud.

Federal prosecutors convinced the jury Fattah was a conman who swindled more than $140,000 dollars through a variety of schemes.

"We appreciate the jury's verdict. It was certainly appropriate under the circumstances. The evidence of Mr. Fattah's guilt was overwhelming. The verdict was entirely appropriate," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray.

Fattah, who represented himself, contended the government built its case on a "deck of cards." He said authorities targeted him because of his big-spending lifestyle and also wanted to hurt his father.

"You know, I think they're after me in this particular case because, you know, I happened to be associated with my family, you know, I happen to have the last name of Fattah," he said.

Fattah, who acted as his own lawyer, said he lost the case because the jury was not able to hear a number of things.

"You know one is that I paid my federal income taxes," he said. "They weren't able to hear from a number of witnesses in this matter."

Chaka Fattah Sr. is an 11-term Democratic congressman who is accused in an unrelated case of misusing federal grants and charitable donations. The elder Fattah was charged in July with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and other crimes. He has denied wrongdoing.

FILE: Chaka Fattah Jr. walks from the U.S. Courthouse, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Philadelphia.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Fattah Jr. was charged with obtaining business loans and federal education contracts to support a lavish lifestyle, which included a luxury condominium. In his opening statement, he described himself as a hard-working entrepreneur targeted by government prosecutors relying on speculation.

Federal prosecutors, in contrast, argued he was a scam artist who launched a number of small businesses to secure financing at local banks. He spent the money, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said, on flashy clothes, expensive bar tabs and luxury cars for himself - all the while neglecting to pay taxes on much of his income.

Fattah countered that he was being criticized "for trying to figure out how to make money. How to make a living. How to pay my rent."

Fattah Jr.'s father spoke with reporters after the verdict came in.

He says his son is being railroaded in a conspiracy to destroy the family's reputation and there will be an appeal of the verdict which came halfway though the second full day of deliberations.

"My son was condemned in court for what he wears, where he lived at, whether he owed a restaurant bill, what kind of car he drove," said Fattah. "As an American citizen, none of those things, to the best of my knowledge, is against the law."

The prosecution is seeking prison time for Fattah Jr.

"I'm not concerned with federal sentencing guidelines, you know, I'm confident in the appeal," Fattah tells Action News.

Fattah said he will most likely be representing himself again.

"I will prevail, and any stain, any temporary stain on the Fattah name, and what my dad has done throughout his career working for the citizens of Philadelphia and this country, you know, will be erased," said Fattah.

The appeal will not happen until after Fattah Jr. is sentenced. His sentencing date is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2016.


Information from The Associated Press was used in this post.