Son of indicted U.S. congressman convicted of fraud

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 3:22 PM

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The son of U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah from Philadelphia was found guilty on Thursday of defrauding banks to obtain business loans he used for personal expenses, including buying jewelry and paying casino gambling debts.

Chaka Fattah Jr., whose father is charged with corruption in an unrelated case, was convicted at trial in Philadelphia federal court of securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent loans from several banks to fund a lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said.

The elder Fattah, an 11-term Democratic congressman, was indicted in July in connection with alleged bribery and misuse of federal, charitable and campaign funds. He has denied those charges, which are unrelated to the fraud that his son was accused of perpetrating.

The congressman, who was often in attendance during his son's trial, is scheduled to go on trial in Philadelphia federal court in May. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The younger Fattah was charged alongside his business partner, Matthew Amato, who cooperated with federal authorities during the probe by wearing a wire during conversations with Fattah.

Amato pleaded guilty last year as part of a deal with prosecutors.

In addition to the bank fraud, prosecutors also said Fattah worked for a company that received money from a local school district in order to provide education to at-risk children. While there, authorities said, he inflated the budgets submitted to the school district and pocketed the extra money.

He was also charged with failing to pay income taxes.

Fattah, who acted as his own attorney at trial, claimed his businesses were legitimate and that any budgetary discrepancies at the school were due to error, not malfeasance.

The jury convicted Fattah of 22 of the 23 counts he faced. His sentencing is scheduled for February.

The case against Chaka Fattah Jr. is U.S. v. Fattah, No. 14-409, and the case against Chaka Fattah Sr is U.S. v. Fattah, No. 15-346, both in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Diane Craft)