The Latest: Lawyer: Government trying to smear congressman

AP News
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Posted: Jun 13, 2016 4:15 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on the closing arguments in the trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (all times local):

4 p.m.

Defense lawyers for a Pennsylvania congressman on trial in Philadelphia accuse the Justice Department of smearing a long-time public servant through the racketeering case.

Closing arguments are underway in the monthlong trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and four co-defendants.

Defense lawyer Samuel Silver says Fattah may have had financial problems. But he says the money a friend spent on his children's nanny, his wife's Porsche and their Poconos vacation home was not part of a bribery scheme.

Silver says the prosecution is fueled by two Fattah consultants who pleaded guilty and hope to get a break for testifying against Fattah.

The political consultants admit they helped carry out an illegal $1 million loan scheme during Fattah's 2007 mayoral campaign.

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1:15 p.m.

A federal prosecutor says U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah "found himself a bought and paid-for U.S. congressman" as he struggled to pay taxes and college tuition and buy a vacation home.

Justice Department lawyer Jonathan Kravis has finished his closing argument in racketeering trial of the 11-term Philadelphia Democrat. Defense lawyers are set to begin their closing arguments Monday afternoon.

Kravis says businessman Herb Vederman was ready with a bribe every time Fattah "put his hand out." Authorities say Fattah in return hired Vederman's girlfriend and asked the White House to make him an ambassador.

Vederman and three others are also on trial.

Prosecutors say Fattah's financial problems began when he took an illegal $1 million loan during a failed 2007 run for Philadelphia mayor.

The 59-year-old Fattah denies wrongdoing.

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11:40 a.m.

Federal prosecutors say a veteran congressman on trial in a racketeering case led a "white-collar crime spree" that stretched from Philadelphia to Washington.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah's monthlong corruption trial is nearing an end with closing arguments Monday from Justice Department lawyer Jonathan Kravis.

The 11-term Philadelphia Democrat is accused of taking an illegal $1 million campaign loan to help pay for his failed 2007 mayoral bid.

Prosecutors say he also used federal grants and nonprofit funds to enrich his family and friends.

Defense lawyers say Fattah's former political consultants devised the schemes. Two have pleaded not guilty and testified against him.

Fattah's lawyers are expected to make closing arguments later in the day.

Fattah lost his bid for re-election in the April primary.

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10:20 a.m.

Closing arguments are underway in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and four co-defendants.

The 11-term Philadelphia Democrat is accused of taking an illegal $1 million campaign loan from a friend to help pay for his failed mayoral bid.

Prosecutors say he also used federal grants and nonprofit funds to enrich his family and friends.

Defense lawyers say Fattah's former political consultants are responsible for the financial wrongdoing. Two have pleaded not guilty and testified against the congressman.

The $1 million loan came from Albert Lord, the former CEO for Sallie Mae.

Fattah's son is serving a five-year prison term in a related case. His co-defendants include Herbert Vederman, a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia.

Fattah lost his bid for re-election in the April Democratic primary.