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Ex-U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah again sentenced to 10 years

Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA -- Nearly three years after he began serving one of the longest prison terms ever for a member of Congress, former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah returned to federal court in Philadelphia on Friday to push for a lighter sentence now that some of his convictions were overturned on appeal.

He left disappointed.

Citing his still-standing convictions on 13 other counts, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III and ordered the Pennsylvania Democrat to serve the full 10-year sentence he got in 2016.

Fattah arrived in court Friday in an olive prison jumpsuit with slightly grayer and slightly less hair than the last time he was there.

"I've spent some time thinking about my life and the decisions I've made and the impact that they've had," he told the judge, describing his time at the federal prison in McKean County. "I have taken some responsibility for making some very bad choices. I'm deeply sorry for them."

Why was Fattah resentenced?


An appeals court last year overturned Fattah's conviction on four counts of bribery and money laundering.

In their ruling, the judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit described the evidence that Fattah had accepted bribes as "overwhelming." But the panel said the instructions Bartle gave the jury -- including on the legal definition of "political graft" -- did not comply with new standards the U.S. Supreme Court set just days after the verdict in the congressman's case.

Still, D. Brooks Smith, chief judge for the appeals court, wrote: "There is more than sufficient evidence to support Fattah's conviction on all of the other counts," including allegations that he stole federal grant funds, charitable donations, and campaign cash to pay his personal and political debts.

Prosecutors had alleged that Fattah had accepted gifts from wealthy benefactor Herbert Vederman, including cash payments to the congressman's children, college tuition for his South African au pair, and $18,000 to help buy a Poconos vacation home.


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