By Frederick H. Lowe and Burney Simpson
Like son, like father.
A federal jury has convicted longtime U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) of bribery, mail fraud and 27 other charges that could lead him to join his son, Chaka Fattah, Jr., in prison where he is currently serving a five year sentence for fraud and tax charges.
The 59 year-old Fattah told reporters after the verdict in Philadelphia that “It’s a tough day. I will confer with my lawyers to figure out what our next steps are.”
“Chaka Fattah, Sr. and his co-defendants betrayed the public trust and undermined our faith in government,” said United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. “Today’s verdict makes clear that the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania expect their public officials to act with honesty and integrity, and to not sell their office for personal gain. Hopefully, our elected officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere hear today’s message loud and clear.”
Congressman Fattah, who was elected to office in 1994, could face up to 20 years behind bars, which represents a stunning fall for Fattah a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 4
The U.S. Justice Department in August indicted Fattah and three others on 29 counts of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy arising from Fattah’s run for mayor of Philadelphia in 2007.
Fattah pled not guilty. However, he was replaced as chairman of the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the non-profit research organization that hosts the annual legislative conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC did not issue a statement concerning Fattah’s conviction.
The federal charges continued his downfall. In April, he lost his bid for re-election, an outcome he predicted following his indictment. He-was defeated by Pennsylvania State Rep. Dwight Edwards.
The 2nd district includes South, North and West Philadelphia and Lower Merion in Montgomery County. Fattah lived his entire life in Philadelphia.
Edwards, who was backed by most of the top state and city Democrats, won 43 percent of the vote to Fattah’s 36 percent. Three other challengers split the remaining votes.
Chattah Fattah Jr., 33, who represented himself during the trial in Philadelphia, was sentenced to prison in February. He was a Philadelphia businessman.