A Philadelphia congressman and four of his associates were charged Wednesday in a 29-count racketeering scheme, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said.
The charges against Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah and others include bribery, various types of fraud, falsification of records, making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering.
"Congressman 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," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell."
"The public expects their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. "By misusing campaign funds, misappropriating government funds, accepting bribes, and committing bank fraud, as alleged in the Indictment, Congressman Fattah and his co-conspirators have betrayed the public trust and undermined faith in government."
According to the indictment, Fattah is linked to schemes dating back to a failed run for Philadelphia mayor in 2007
According to the indictment, Fattah "and certain associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter and disguised the funds as a loan to a consulting company. After he lost the election, Fattah allegedly returned $400,000 to the donor that the campaign had not used, and arranged for Educational Advancement Alliance (EAA), a non-profit entity that he founded and controlled, to repay the remaining $600,000 using charitable and federal grant funds that passed through two other companies.
To allegedly hide the "repayment scheme, the defendants and others allegedly created sham contracts and made false entries in accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements."
The indictment also claims that Fattah "sought to extinguish approximately $130,000 in campaign debt owed to a political consultant by agreeing to arrange for the award of federal grant funds to the consultant."
Fattah allegedly told the consultant "to apply for a $15 million grant, which he did not ultimately receive, on behalf of a then non-existent non-profit entity. In exchange for Fattah's efforts to arrange the award of the funds to the non-profit, the consultant allegedly agreed to forgive the debt owed by the campaign."
Prosecutors alleged that Fattah also used campaign donations to pay $23,000 of his son's student loan debt.
Prosecutors said that Fattah had not been taken into custody, but would be expected to appear in court soon to face these charges.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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