PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A news anchor said Thursday that authorities have wrongly accused her of a shady Porsche transaction in the indictment of her congressman husband.
Renee Chenault-Fattah said she sold the car to a family friend for $18,000 because she and Fattah needed the money to close on a vacation home.
"I know this was a legitimate sale," she wrote in a letter to WCAU-TV (http://bit.ly/1JyK3J8), where she is on leave.
Yet in an indictment released Wednesday, federal prosecutors allege it was a sham sale designed to hide a bribe from a lobbyist. They said the car never changed hands and the paperwork was falsified.
It was one of four schemes cited in the indictment against Fattah, an 11-term Democrat from Philadelphia charged with bribery, fraud, money laundering and other crimes that netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars, federal investigators said.
Chenault-Fattah is not charged in the case. Her husband has also denied wrongdoing.
The car was supposedly sold to lobbyist Herbert Vederman, Fattah's longtime campaign finance director. Vederman wanted an ambassadorship or a seat on the U.S. Trade Commission, prosecutors said. FBI agents found the car still in the Fattahs' garage two years later, the indictment said.
Chenault-Fattah said she kept the car after the sale partly because the buyer didn't have a garage. She said she continued to insure it and later had it towed to be serviced "because I wanted it to be in good shape ... since this transaction had happened so hastily in the dead of winter."
"It has remained undriven in our garage for 3 years now because on advice of counsel ... we were instructed to do nothing with the car," Chenault-Fattah said.
A lawyer for Vederman, who is also charged in the indictment, said he would plead not guilty and fight the charges.