June 5, 2016 |
A former congressman, a parade of government staffers, and even a hotel doorman cycled through the witness stand Friday as the defense case began in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) and four codefendants. Lawyers for the accused hoped each could put a little polish back on their clients' reputations after three weeks of tarnishing government testimony. But prosecutors showed little patience for the pursuit. Asked if she had an opinion of Fattah's character, Elizabeth King, Fattah's former legislative director, eagerly replied: "I absolutely do. "He is a truthful person who does good things for the right reasons," she said.
June 4, 2016 |
Prosecutors in the federal corruption trial against U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) concluded their case Friday, clearing the way for the first defense witnesses to take the stand later this afternoon. But first, lawyers for the congressman and his four co-defendants urged the U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III to immediately dismiss the charges against their clients, arguing that government lawyers had failed to prove their case. Addressing the indictment's primary count - a racketeering conspiracy charge under which all five defendants are charged - defense lawyer Robert Welsh maintained that the government had failed to establish that Fattah and his associates set out to participate in a criminal enterprise to advance the congressman's career.
May 26, 2016 |
The criminal trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah focused Tuesday on the problems of his son. A top Drexel University lobbyist, Brian T. Keech, testified about the tuition and academic woes of Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. that three times prompted Drexel to put him on a payment plan. The younger Fattah repeatedly stopped paying his college bills, and federal prosecutors allege that his father solved the problem by stealing from his campaign fund to pay Drexel. Chip Fattah's tuition became a headache for the lobbyist when the younger Fattah came to him after Drexel barred him from attending classes because of $30,000 in unpaid tuition.
May 18, 2016 |
U.S. REP. Chaka Fattah is a victim, his lawyers said Monday at the start of his federal corruption trial, of two unscrupulous political aides who stole in his name to pay off his debts, all without his knowledge. But prosecutors balked at that depiction, calling the Philadelphia Democrat a thief and a corrupt politician eager to shift blame for his crimes to anyone but himself. The conflicting portraits of Fattah - who rose from West Philadelphia more than two decades ago to become a congressman and eventually a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee - opened what is expected to be one of the region's most closely watched political trials in years.
May 17, 2016 |
BECAUSE IT never ends and no longer surprises, another round of charges and a criminal plea involving Pennsylvania public figures pretty much gets a shrug. It shouldn't, but for citizens outside the circles of politics it does. For them, two more names - Larry Farnese, John Estey - are but interchangeable stickmen in games long seen as shady. Last week, connected Philly lawyer Estey, former top aide to Gov. Rendell, pleaded guilty after pocketing $13,000 during an elaborate sting designed to catch others.
May 12, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - John H. Estey, a former top aide to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, pleaded guilty Tuesday to funneling illegal campaign contributions to Pennsylvania legislators to help a phony company set up by the FBI in an elaborate pay-to-play sting. Estey, a lawyer from Ardmore, pleaded guilty to a count of wire fraud committed in 2011, when he was snared in an investigation in which FBI agents posed as businessmen seeking influence with state legislators, according to court documents.
May 5, 2016 |
A jury of six men and six women was seated Tuesday to weigh the federal corruption case against U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) later this month. Opening arguments in the racketeering conspiracy case are scheduled for May 16 before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III. Fattah, 59, has repeatedly denied charges that he accepted a lobbyist's bribes and misused charitable funds, campaign contributions and federal grant money under his control to pay off personal and campaign debts.
May 5, 2016
Getting caught in a 2011 FBI sting apparently didn't prevent disgraced insider John Estey from grabbing for more. When the FBI gave him $20,000 to bribe Pennsylvania legislators as an undercover informant, he allegedly pocketed $13,000 of it. Estey, who served as Gov. Ed Rendell's chief of staff, is expected to plead guilty as a result of the same investigation that forced another prominent Democrat, former state Treasurer Rob McCord, to admit threatening...