A federal grand jury indicated Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania and four contacts on racketeering conspiring charges, accusing them of misusing thousands of dollars in taxpayer, charity and campaign funds. However, he still vows not to resign office.
According to sources, the charges are the result of a long running Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Mr. Fattah, a Democrat, aged 58, who represents Philadelphia. A lot of the charges stem from Mr. Fattah's failed bid to win the nomination for mayor in 2007.
Mr. Fattah, first elected to Congress in 1994, serves on the apt committee overseeing the Justice Department's budget. Democratic leaders had claimed he would step down from the panel while the case proceeds.
Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department's criminal division said, "Mr. Fattah and his associates, embarked on a wide conspiracy relating bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contribution and theft of charitable and federal funds at the office to advance their own personal interests." The charge is included in a 29-count indictment field in Philadelphia.
Mr. Fattah denied wrong doings and said he plans to keep working in Congress.
"I have never been involved in any wrongdoing; any unlawful activity; any misappropriation of federal funds," he said. "Its obliviously going to be to my constituents that this matter not to be distraction in terms of my work and I'm going to try not to have it be a distraction".
According to the Indictment, Mr. Fattah took a secret $1 million loan for his campaign from a wealthy man identified only as, "Person D", hiding the transaction through a political consultant. When Mr. Fattah lost the primary authorities, he said, he owed the man in question, $600,000.
The congressman, authorities allege, then set out to steer federal and other funds to entities that would, in essence, repay the outstanding debt piece by piece.
Prosecutors said, Mr. Fattah used federal grants and donations for his educational foundation to pay back some money. At one point, he tried to arrange a $15 million federal grant for a phony nonprofit in a scheme to repay a $130,000 debt to a political consultant.
In 2008, Mr. Fattah and his aides allegedly "repeatedly pursued a federal appointment" for Mr. Vederman through meeting, emails and phone calls with the office colleagues.
Authorities said that to hide an $18,000 gift from Mr. Vederman to Mr. Fattah, they conspired to fake a sale of Mr. Fattah's married wife Porsche. Fattah wanted $18,000 qualify for loans to buy a home for his family.
Vederman was charged for being part of Mr. Fattah’s alleged criminal acts. His attorney said her client wouldn't plead guilty because the government "has cherry-picked facts to support its clinical view of friendship and wrongly labeled it bribery".
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the charges against Mr. Fattah.