Pennsylvania

Congressman Chaka Fattah’s Son ‘Taken’ Off to Serve Years in Prison for Fraud

A veteran U.S. congressman's son's declaration that he wouldn't be heading to prison turned out to be false.

Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was convicted in November of 22 counts that he misspent loans and some of the nearly $1 million in education funds he got as a school management subcontractor. The jury acquitted him of one count of tax fraud.

After learning his fate, Fattah Jr. -- the son of 11-term Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah -- was immediately taken into custody.

Fattah Jr., who goes by "Chip," told NBC10's Harry Hairston in the hours after his conviction last fall that he didn't believe he would wind up behind bars. [[341397771, C]]

"I'm not going to face any time in prison," Fattah Jr. told Hairston.

Fattah Jr., 33, said he planned to appeal the verdict and that the evidence presented against him by federal prosecutors was "prejudicial."  He represented himself, contending the government built its case on a "deck of cards." He said authorities targeted him because of his big-spending lifestyle and also wanted to hurt his father.

Chaka Fattah Sr. is charged in a separate case with misusing federal grants and charitable donations to repay an illegal $1 million campaign loan, funneling campaign money toward his son's student loan, and accepting bribes. He accused federal authorities of trying to smear him and his family's "good name."

Fattah Jr., who showed no reaction as he was sentenced, was also ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution and spend five years on supervised release after serving his prison term.

He told the judge Tuesday that he had tried to be a law-abiding citizen and had never been in court on a criminal matter before. He said he had lost money, friends and a reputation he said "was good."

"I didn't know anything I did was a violation of the law," he said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III, however, said Fattah Jr. "had many opportunities and advantages that most young people could only dream about," and made "bad choices of your own free will."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said after sentencing that Fattah Jr. had "lied and cheated the IRS in a scheme to defraud the school district of significant amounts of money."

He said the judge agreed that "the evidence against Mr. Fattah was overwhelming and gave him a sentence that was deserved."

The elder Fattah disagreed. "And now they've taken my only son, and I guess they suggested this was justice," he told reporters outside the courtroom. "I'll leave it for others to decide."

A judge rejected a request last week by Fattah Sr.'s lawyers to be removed from his case, saying that the congressman hasn't paid them in months.

Congressman Fattah is married to NBC10 News anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, who is currently on leave from the station. She has not been charged.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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