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Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr. Charged For Political Corruption


A Democrat who has served 20 years in the House of Representatives has been indicted on racketeering charges. Federal prosecutors accuse Pennsylvania congressman Chaka Fattah of enriching himself and his associates. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: U.S. attorney Zane Memeger unveiled the charges at a news conference in Philadelphia.


ZANE MEMEGER: This morning, we are here to announce the filing of a 29-count indictment charging United States congressman Chaka Fattah Sr...

JOHNSON: The case began two years ago with a tip to the FBI, and from there, it grew to encompass bribery, mail fraud, falsifying records and money laundering allegations. FBI special agent Edward Hanko says the scheme began in 2007 when Fattah needed cash for a mayoral race.

EDWARD HANKO: This investigation shows Congressman Fattah, in an effort to become mayor of Philadelphia, is alleged to have violated the law to gain access to funds he was not entitled to.

JOHNSON: Fattah allegedly accepted a million dollars from a donor, then concealed the source of that money with sham contracts and phony accounting entries. Prosecutors say the web of deceit spread to a plot that funneled campaign money to pay back student loans for Fattah's son and then onto an unsuccessful bid to reward his fundraiser with a job as a U.S. ambassador. The indictment says Fattah and his staffers reached out to the president and the deputy White House chief of staff to try to secure the fundraiser a job. And after the congressman hired the man's girlfriend, the fundraiser allegedly loaned him money to buy a vacation home in the Poconos. Leslie Caldwell is assistant attorney general.

LESLIE CALDWELL: When elected officials betray the trust and confidence that's placed in them by the public, the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to ensure that they are held accountable.

JOHNSON: Back in Washington, Fattah called the investigation misguided and denied the charges against him. He says he'll stay in Congress, but for now, he's stepped aside from his post as senior member of the panel that oversees the Justice Department's budget. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.