By Tony Hanson and Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Chaka Fattah Jr. formally pleaded not guilty in federal court today to charges of federal bank fraud, theft, and income tax evasion.
Fattah Jr., son of the congressman, had talked at length with reporters before and after last week’s court initial appearance, after the indictment against him was returned, proclaiming his innocence and claiming a political motivation.
But this time, after pleading not guilty to all the charges against him, Fattah turned to counsel.
(Fattah:) “My lawyer, James McHugh, from the public defender’s office, has a statement. All right, James…”
(McHugh:) “At today’s arraignment, Chaka Fattah Jr. entered his plea of not guilty to each and every count in the indictment, and he’s looking forward to his day in court at the time of trial.”
But Fattah Jr. did say he stands by his earlier statements.
Fattah Jr. offered no response when asked if he was concerned that his former roommate had pleaded guilty on federal fraud charges, indicating he would cooperate with prosecutors and potentially testify against him.
Following his indictment August 5, Fattah Jr. had spoken extensively to reporters, and on at least two radio talk shows, denying allegations and claiming that the charges were part of a vendetta by federal prosecutors aimed at his father.
He reiterated that claim as he left the courthouse today, but otherwise gave only brief answers to reporters’ questions, declining to answer some questions entirely.
However, in response to reporters’ questions, he did predict, “I will be vindicated.”
He remains free on bail as he awaits trial.
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