By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In its second full day of deliberations, a Philadelphia jury has found Chaka Fattah Jr. guilty on all but one of the 23 counts spelled out in the federal indictment, at his bank and tax fraud trial.
Jurors had to decide between competing portraits of the defendant. Prosecutors painted Chaka Fattah Jr. as “a cheat and deadbeat.” They said his explanations of how he ran sham businesses were “absurd,” and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray’s last words to jurors were “this man is a scam artist, and every one of you knows it.”
“The evidence of Mr. Fattah’s guilt was overwhelming.”
The 32-year-old Fattah Jr., who represented himself, was allowed to continue the same conditions for bail. He promises a vigorous appeal.
His father, the long-time congressman, who will face separate corruption charges next spring brought by the same prosecution team, diverted to the courthouse in the moments after the verdict.
“There will be a day in which my son walks out of a courtroom, free and not guilty of these charges.”
The elder Fattah contends there was prosecutorial misconduct from beginning to end.
“The rules just seemed to be thrown asunder.”
He says in private side-bar conversations at the bar of the court with the judge, prosecutors were able to get witnesses Fattah Jr. wanted to call struck from the list, so the cards were stacked.
Federal prosecutors called Fattah Jr. a “scam artist,” a “cheat and deadbeat,” and that the businesses he ran were “shams,” that he lied to banks in order to get business loans – essentially to use other people’s money to pay for an extravagant lifestyle.
Fattah told jurors the case brought by the government started with a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the businesses he ran. Fattah says four lines of his businesses made over $1 million over a ten year period.
Fattah will be sentenced in February, and faces several years in prison; court observers say a minimum of four years.
Always chatty with reporters in the courtroom, hallways, and elevator at the federal courthouse, Fattah Jr. slipped by just as his dad was finishing up outside the courthouse with reporters.