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Judge orders Fattah to prison despite appeal

Judge orders Fattah to prison despite appeal
© Greg Nash

Former Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) will have to appeal his corruption conviction from prison starting in January, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. 

Fattah, 60, was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison on charges of fraud, bribery and money laundering after a jury convicted him on more than 20 counts. He has been ordered to report to prison by Jan. 25.

Fattah had argued a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that limits the legal definition of bribery would likely help his appeal, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

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In his opinion, however, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said that Fattah had been found guilty of other crimes meriting a prison sentence even if the bribery convictions are eventually overturned.

A Supreme Court ruling in June overturned corruption convictions of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) related to accepting $175,000 worth of gifts from a businessman who wanted assistance promoting a dietary supplement. 

Fattah resigned from the House shortly after his conviction, which came days before the Supreme Court issued its opinion on McDonnell’s case. Fattah had already lost reelection in the Democratic primary for the Philadelphia-area seat he represented in the House for 22 years.

A jury found Fattah guilty of accepting $18,000 from Herbert Vederman, a former deputy mayor, in exchange for help with getting a plum post in the Obama administration. Those efforts were ultimately fruitless. 

Fattah was also convicted of accepting a $1 million loan from a campaign donor for his unsuccessful 2007 campaign for Philadelphia mayor. He then tried to repay part of the loan by using federal grant money meant for an education nonprofit managed by former aides.