PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A longtime Democrati9c congressman who was indicted Wednesday paid off a campaign loan with charitable donations and federal grants, funneled campaign money to pay down his son’s student loan debt and disguised a lobbyist’s bribe as payment for a car he never sold, U.S. prosecutors said.
Rep. Chaka Fattah and four associates were charged with racketeering conspiracy. They also were charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit wire, honest services, bank and mail fraud, and money laundering, among other things.
Prosecutors say the charges covered several schemes. They allege Fattah used federal grants and donations to his educational foundation to pay back part of a wealthy campaign supporter’s $1 million loan and that he helped arrange a $15 million federal grant for a nonexistent nonprofit in lieu of a $130,000 payment to a political consultant after his failed 2007 mayoral run.
“The public does not expect their elected officials to misuse campaign funds, misappropriate government funds, accept bribes or commit bank fraud,” U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said. “These types of criminal acts betray the public trust and undermine faith in government.”
Fattah’s office had no immediate comment on the charges. It said it would issue a statement later Wednesday. The 58-year-old remains free pending a yet-unscheduled court date. He has served 22 years in Congress.
Under indictment, Fattah was stepping down from his post as the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending for Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies.