Juror in Fattah trial dismissed; deliberations to restart

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A juror in the corruption trial of Rep. Chaka Fattah was dismissed by the judge on Friday morning.

The reason for the dismissal was not disclosed. An alternate is now on the jury.

With this dismissal, jury deliberations will have to start over.

This comes after attorneys for both sides spent time in the judge's chambers on Thursday afternoon.

A juror was dismissed earlier this week for an undisclosed reason.

Fattah and his four co-defendants are charged with racketeering and conspiracy, plus 28 other counts including money laundering and fraud.

If convicted, the 11-term Philadelphia congressman could be looking at a long prison term.

Prosecutors say he stole from taxpayers and charities to pay off personal and political debts.

Fattah denies the charges, saying the Justice Department has long been on a witch hunt against him and his family. He son is now serving a 5 year term on a bank and tax fraud conviction.

The government's case hinges on the testimony of two cooperating witnesses. They are former Fattah political operatives who have pleaded guilty and hope to get lenient sentences in exchange for their testimony against the 59-year-old Fattah.

Also awaiting a verdict: former deputy mayor Herb Vederman, a Fattah friend the government claims was an ATM for Fattah, paying him in exchange for Fattah lobbying the White House to get him an ambassadorship.
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