U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr. of Pennsylvania was found guilty today of multiple counts of racketeering, fraud and money laundering in a case involving his unsuccessful 2007 bid to become mayor of Philadelphia.
The Democratic congressman reacted to the verdict with little more than a smile as he consulted with his attorneys, The Associated Press reported.
The jury sat through a four-week trial as prosecutors argued that Fattah, 59, had been at the center of an elaborate conspiracy to pay back an illegal $1 million campaign contribution after losing the mayoral election. He returned $400,000 in unused funds and then funneled the remaining money through an educational nonprofit he founded. The plot involved using charitable and federal grant funds and hiding the transaction with false accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance reports, according to a statement released by the prosecution.
The Philadelphia Inquirer added:
"Prosecutors also charged the congressman in a bribery scheme involving Herbert Vederman, one of Fattah's most prolific fund-raisers and a Rendell-era deputy mayor. Through cash payments to the congressman's children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, Vederman bought Fattah's support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship, government witnesses alleged. He, too, was charged in the case and convicted of racketeering conspiracy."
In addition to Fattah and Vederman, three other people were found guilty of various charges in connection with the schemes.
"This is an extraordinarily difficult day for me and my family," the congressman said in a statement. "A jury has decided that based on the evidence presented to them that I am guilty of charges presented by the government. Today's decision notwithstanding, it has been my privilege to serve the constituents of the Second Congressional District for over 20 years."
Fattah is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 4.
His political career appeared finished even before the trial. He lost his April primary race, denying him the possibility of a 12th term.
Update on June 23: Fattah announced today that he has resigned his House seat; his current term was to end on Jan. 2.