Congressman watches as son defends himself at US fraud trial
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The son of a veteran Philadelphia congressman called the government’s case flawed and speculative as he gave his opening statement on Friday at his federal bank and tax fraud trial.
Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr., 33, defended himself in court as his indicted father looked on, The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1kaEJCb ) reported. The two men are charged in separate but overlapping cases investigated by the same FBI agents and prosecutors.
Chaka Fattah Jr. is accused of obtaining business loans and federal education contracts to support a lifestyle that included nice clothes, a pricey car and a luxury condominium. He calls himself a hard-working entrepreneur and said the government’s case is based “entirely on speculation.”
“I’m an entrepreneur,” he said. “I took a camera and made it into $100,000. The government is criticizing me for trying to figure out how to make money. How to make a living. How to pay my rent.”
Prosecutors described the younger Fattah as a scam artist who launched a number of small businesses to secure financing at local banks. He spent the money, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said, on flashy clothes, expensive bar tabs and luxury cars for himself — all the while neglecting to pay taxes on much of his income.
“This case is about lies, cheating and stealing by Chaka Fattah Jr.,” Gray said.
His father, Democrat U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr., sat in the front row as the trial began. He is accused of misusing federal grants and charitable donations.
He has denied wrongdoing and told The Inquirer on Friday that he is proud of his son.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com