A jury has convicted a veteran U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah in a racketeering case that largely centered on various efforts to repay an illegal $1 million campaign loan.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was found guilty of all counts against him, including racketeering, fraud and money laundering. His lawyers had argued that the schemes were engineered without Fattah's knowledge by two political consultants who pleaded guilty in the case.
As he emerged from the courthouse after the guilty verdict, Fattah made a brief statement about conferring with his lawyers before continuing to walk away without answering further questions from reporters.
The 59 year old Democrat has represented West Philadelphia as well as parts of Center City, South Philly, Montgomery County and the Main Line in Congress since 1995 and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. But he lost the April primary and his bid for his 12th term. His current term ends in December.
Fattah's jovial and calm demeanor didn't change much as the verdict was read, said NBC10's Deanna Durante who was in the courtroom.
Fattah will remain out on bail ahead of his October sentencing.
Jurors began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon, nearly month after the trial began May 16. A juror was dismissed in the racketeering case without explanation Friday. An alternate replaced the missing member, and U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III ordered jurors to begin deliberations again.
Four co-defendants also faced numerous charges.
- Fattah's former chief of staff, Bonnie Bowser, was found guilty on some of her 21 counts.
- Fattah's friend and wealthy supporter, Herbert Vederman, was found guilty on all 8 counts.
- Political consultant Robert Brand was found guilty on all two counts.
- Former Fattah aide Karen Nicholas was found guilty on some of her seven counts.
The four-week trial concluded quicker than most observers expected and did not involve any bombshell testimony or evidence entered by prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Instead, the trial revolved around the legality of the defendants actions related to a $1 million loan made during Fattah's failed 2007 mayoral campaign.
Prior to the trial, Fattah's chief strategist for that mayoral bid, Richard Naylor, pleaded guilty to misuse of campaign funds. He testified early on in the trial as a prosecution witness.
“This charge cost him his reelection. He’d been an 11-term Congressman and did a lot of things for his constituents when he was in office,” said Howard Bruce Klein, a former federal prosecutor. “So I would say it’s a sad ending for a public servant who made scholarships available for thousands of students over the years, but now has come to a very unhappy ending, being guilty of corruption. So it’s a day for the Congressman, it’s a sad day for his constituents and it’s a sad day for Philadelphia.”
Members of the jurors didn't immediately comment as they left the courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Fattah's son Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was also found guilty of federal fraud charges.