PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia congressman’s son was accused Tuesday of stealing federal funds for city schools, fraudulently obtaining business loans and then using the money to pay personal expenses, including gambling debt. His father said the case raised questions about whether his son is being treated fairly.
The son, Chaka Fattah Jr., 31, was charged in an indictment handed up Tuesday with bank and wire fraud, theft and filing false tax returns.
In an interview with WPVI-TV, he denied any wrongdoing, saying he “earned every dollar legitimately.”
“I just think that this entire investigation has been politically motivated and I’m looking forward to my day in court,” he said before heading into court.
He was released on bail and appointed a public defender.
His father, 10-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fatah, issued a statement saying he is confident his son will be cleared. He also said the involvement of Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Gray and FBI Special Agent Richard J. Haag “raise concerns about the fair administration of justice in this case.”
His office said he would not elaborate, and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on his statement.
The congressman himself has been the subject of a long-running federal investigation.
In March, the elder Fattah said he would seek to quash a subpoena he received for documents from his congressional offices; Haag was involved in the issuance of that subpoena.
The indictment accuses his son of lying about his income to obtain more than $200,000 in business loans.
Prosecutors said the son used one $50,000 loan, intended “for working capital to support business operations,” to pay more than $15,000 in credit card debt and pay off more than $33,000 in casino gambling debt.
He also is charged with theft of federal funds from the city school district, filing false income tax returns in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and failing to pay $51,000 in taxes on time in 2010.
He had two consulting companies, 259 Strategies and Chaka Fattah Jr. & Associates, which he billed as providing educational consulting, diversity consulting, audit services, technical assistance and community relations, along with research and computer consulting, the indictment said.
In the filing of the theft charge, the government said he inflated expenses related to at least $930,000 in federal funds he received for a charter school program for at-risk middle school students.
Fattah has a lawsuit pending against the IRS over a 2012 search of his Philadelphia home that he says damaged his reputation.
“I have been successful in my business,” Fattah told WPVI. “I earned every dollar legitimately, and I don’t think that this is the way an investigation is typically handled. I mean, they’ve spent millions of dollars working on this for 2½ years.”