Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah, D-Penn., and four of his associates were indicted Wednesday for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy, the Justice Department announced.
The Justice Department said Fattah and his associates were involved in several schemes intended to further their political and financial interests by misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds.
The schemes allegedly included the use of federal grants and donations to Fattah's educational foundation to pay back part of an off-the-books $1 million loan to his failed campaign for mayor of Philadelphia in 2007.
Fattah also allegedly misappropriated campaign funds to repay his son's student loan debt and sought to conceal a lobbyist's bribe as a payment for a car sale that never took place.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell claimed Fattah and his associates embarked on a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests
"When elected officials betray the trust and confidence placed in them by the public, the department will do everything we can to ensure that they are held accountable," Caldwell said.
She added, "Public corruption takes a particularly heavy toll on our democracy because it undermines people's basic belief that our elected leaders are committed to serving the public interest, not to lining their own pockets."
The defendants in the case include Fattah, his Congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, the CEO of his educational foundation Karen Nicholas, lobbyist Herbert Vederman, and Philadelphia businessman Robert Brand.
The 29-count indictment includes charges of participating in a racketeering conspiracy, bribery, mail fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the indictment against Fattah "deeply saddening," describing the eleven-term Congressman as a tireless and effective advocate for America's hard-working families.
Pelosi noted that Fattah has stepped down from his position as Ranking Member on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending for Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies.
Meanwhile, Fattah has reiterated his claim that he has never been involved in any wrongdoing, any unlawful activity, or any misappropriation of federal funds.
by RTT Staff Writer
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