U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was convicted on Tuesday of federal corruption and bribery charges, as a federal jury in Philadelphia found that he misused grants, campaign contributions and charitable donations to pay off debts and advance his career.
Four members of the longtime Democratic congressman’s inner circle were also convicted of multiple counts.
The jury’s verdict sheet – which includes a count-by-count breakdown of the panel’s decision – outlines the main schemes Fattah perpetrated:
The illegal $1 million campaign loan
Prosecutors said Fattah accepted an illegal $1 million campaign loan from Albert Lord, the former Sallie Mae chief executive, in an effort to save his struggling 2007 mayoral bid. The congressman and his allies then stole charitable donations and federal grants from an education nonprofit he created to pay Lord back.
The attempted sham appropriation
Fattah encouraged a campaign operative to set up a sham nonprofit, called the Blue Guardians, through which the congressman could funnel federal grant money. The organization, which purportedly raised awareness about ocean pollution, twice sought funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The funds funneled to pay off his son’s college debts
Fattah funneled money from his campaign funds to pay off college debts owed by his son, Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr. The younger Fattah was struggling to pay his tuition at Drexel University; the congressman stole the campaign money to pay Drexel and student lender Sallie Mae, from which his son had borrowed money.
The falsified records
The congressman filed false information on campaign finance records to hide the $1 million loan and efforts to repay that money and other debts.
Fattah accepted bribes from fund-raiser and lobbyist Herbert Vederman, who was seeking a White House appointment as an ambassador. Those bribes involved gifts that included cash, college tuition payments for Fattah’s au pair, and an $18,000 payment to help secure a mortage for a Poconos vacation home, disguised as a sham sale of a Porsche driven by Fattah’s wife, former NBC10 anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah. In exchange, Fattah advocated to Washington officials on Vederman’s behalf, and provided a job in his district office to the fund-raiser’s girlfriend.
The fake higher education conference
Former aide Karen Nicholas misappropriated federal grant money meant to support a 2012 conference on higher education that never occurred.