Former Dem Congressman Chaka Fattah Receives 10-Year Sentence on Corruption Charges

Chaka Fattah / AP

Former Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison on federal corruption charges, including fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

Fattah, who represented several areas of Philadelphia in Congress, was convicted in June on 23 charges of corruption. His prison sentence will begin on Jan. 25, according the Philadelphia Inquirer. Prosecutors had asked that Fattah receive 17 to 22 years in prison, the Inquirer reported earlier.

Prosecutors have asked that the Philadelphia Democrat receive a term of 17 to 22 years, but the defense has requested a much shorter term, calling the government's recommendation "extreme" and "unnecessarily harsh." They said such a punishment would be the longest prison term ever meted out to a member of Congress for corruption.

Whatever the outcome, Fattah, 60, will become the first member of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation to be sentenced in a federal corruption case since 1996, when Pittsburgh-area Rep. Joseph P. Kolter was sentenced to six months for covering up his theft of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds with vouchers that claimed he used the money to buy stamps for his office.

Fattah's case primarily stems from a failed mayoral bid in 2007 during which Fattah took an illegal $1 million contribution. He was also accused of misusing campaign funds to pay off his son's college debts, funneling money through a fake nonprofit to pay a political strategist, and taking $27,000 in bribes from a fundraiser.

The Philadelphia Democrat was elected to Congress in 1994 and only resigned his seat after he was convicted on the corruption charges in June.

Many former colleagues vouched for Fattah leading up to his sentencing, hoping they could convince the judge to give Fattah a shorter sentence. But prosecutors seemed unswayed by Fattah's attempts to tout his accomplishments while in office.

"He chose to violate the trust of his constituents and the taxpayers to line his pockets and advance his personal and professional goals at their expense," Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson said.

Fattah's 10-year prison sentence is the second longest ever given out to a member of Congress for corruption charges.