PA Congressman, Son Battle Feds on Separate Fronts

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The Justice Department exchanged shots with a congressman and his son today, formally indicting Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-PA, on the same morning the son – charged with tax fraud – filed suit against the government for due-process violations.
     Fattah’s indictment includes four of his associates and comes after a six-year investigation into misappropriation of campaign funds from his 2007 mayoral bid and illegal horse-trading.
     The 85-page, 29-count indictment claims Fattah used campaign funds to repay his son’s college debts, extinguish money owed to lobbyists by promising them federal grants – and repaid campaign money with government charity funds.
     “By misusing campaign funds, misappropriating government funds, accepting bribes, and committing bank fraud, as alleged in the indictment, Congressman Fattah and his co-conspirators have betrayed the public trust and undermined faith in government,” U.S. Attorney Zane Memger said in a statement.
     “I have never as an elected official been involved in any illegal activity, any misappropriation of funds,” Fattah told the Associated Press.
     An indictment has been expected since 2014, when documents connected with conspiracy charges against Fattah’s campaign consultant, Tom Lindenfeld, revealed the consultant admitted to helping someone identified only as “Elected Official A” – widely assumed to be Rep. Fattah.
     Meanwhile, the younger Fattah – himself indicted for under-reporting income to pay off $30,000 in gambling debts – filed suit against the government, making similar allegations to those dismissed by a federal judge last year.
     In a complaint filed pro se, Fattah Jr. claims federal agents tipped off the media that they would be handing him his charges. He says this preemptively turning accusations against him into a public perp walk that cost business revenue – and his ability to retain counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath – before he had the opportunity to refute the allegations.
     District Judge Timothy Savage dismissed the first action, finding that Fattah Jr. had not made a valid claim under the Privacy Act and that the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction for the specific statute the son claimed the government violated.
     Fattah Jr.’s new complaint includes a new statute that bars disclosing confidential tax information.
     “The media disclosure, as described in the related case, destroyed Mr. Fattah’s income and reputation,” Fattah Jr. says in the complaint, adding that his 2011 gross income of $315,675 dwindled to $16,891 in 2012.
     “In 2015, Mr. Fattah has not received any income,” the complaint states.

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