At resentencing, former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah still gets 10 years

An appeals court decision gave former Philly Congressman Chaka Fattah a shot at less time in prison. In the end, he got the same punishment: 10 years.

Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A Philadelphia judge has sentenced former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah to 10 years in federal prison for public corruption — again. 

Despite apologizing in court, Fattah, 62, was handed the same punishment during Friday’s resentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III. Last year, an appeals court overturned four of Fattah’s convictions and re-instated two more for bank and mortgage fraud. 

“The court must signal to the public that your crimes are unacceptable,” said Bartle before sentencing a grayer-haired Fattah, garbed in an olive green prison jumpsuit. 

Fattah’s new sentence was widely expected. In 2016, Bartle ordered him to serve multiple, decadelong sentences simultaneously for leading what prosecutors called a “white-collar crime spree.” 

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With the help of his co-defendants, Fattah misspent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and charitable donations to repay an illegal campaign loan; used campaign cash to help pay off some of his son’s college tuition debt; pushed to create a sham environmental nonprofit to settle up with a political consultant; and arranged a fake car sale to help buy a vacation home in the Poconos. 

On Friday, Fattah’s lawyers tried to change their client’s fate anyway, asking Bartle to knock three years off Fattah’s original sentence, in part because of his “exemplary” behavior since serving time at FCI-Mckean. 

“It is leadership, it is responsibility, it is care for other people,” defense attorney Sam Silver said. 

A sentencing memorandum filed this week highlights that Fattah has “tutored numerous inmates in reading skills in preparation for their GED examinations, and has also worked in the library where he assists inmates in locating books…Mr. Fattah also has taught seminars on life choices and job pursuits, and assisted in teaching a variety of other classes to his fellow inmates.”

In court, Fattah told Bartle that he has also used his time behind bars to think about his crimes. 

“I’m deeply sorry for them. I have done things that are wrong,” he said. “I understand that I’ve let people down and that I’ve hurt people.” 

Prosecutors argued that Fattah should remain in prison for a decade despite the appeals court decision because “not much has changed.” Bartle agreed, ultimately sentencing Fattah to 10 years on all 16 counts, as well as three years of supervision after he is released. 

Fattah is also responsible for $614,500 in restitution. He has paid $73,393.98 of that total, according to court documents. 

Fattah, who can appeal Friday’s ruling, is scheduled for release in 2025. 

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