Judge Upholds Chaka Fattah Conviction

Dismisses other charges of mail and bank fraud, falsifying records

Lawyers for former Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah wanted the court to consider the ruling that overturned former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's conviction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A judge has upheld a bulk of federal corruption charges against former Rep. Chaka Fattah but dropped other convictions related to mail and bank fraud.

In a 101-page opinion, Philadelphia federal Judge Harvey Bartle did not agree with Fattah’s attorneys when they asked him to consider the pivotal Supreme Court ruling that overturned the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell in his own case.

[Chaka Fattah Seeks to Use McDonnell Case to Overturn Conviction]

McDonnell and his wife were indicted by the federal government for accepting more than $175,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman whose dietary supplement they promoted through arranged meetings and events.

In that case, the court disagreed with what constituted an “official act,” ruling that a more limited interpretation of the term leaves room for prosecuting lawmakers for commonplace interactions with constituents.   

Bartle wrote in the opinion that Fattah’s case presented evidence the Pennsylvania Democrat used his official powers, in part, to pay off a campaign loan in exchange for securing congressional earmarks for a sham nonprofit while he was a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

[Rep. Chaka Fattah Found Guilty of Corruption]

Attorneys for Fattah argued McDonnell was acquitted for far more serious charges.

Bartle did dismiss four of the 22 counts Fattah was convicted of. Those charges relate to mail and bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and falsification of records.

In June, a judge convicted Fattah of federal corruption charges largely surrounding an illegal $1 million campaign loan during a failed bid for mayor of Philadelphia in 2007. Three other people were also convicted.

Prosecutors alleged Fattah took bribes and stole charitable donations and campaign contributions as well as misused federal grant money under his control.

The 11-term congressman was the first incumbent to lose his seat in an April primary. He resigned as a member of Congress in June two days after his conviction.

Fattah’s appeal delayed sentencing, which was scheduled for this month. A new date has not yet been set.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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