The son of a congressman, who could face time in prison following his federal indictment on theft and tax-fraud charges, was released on bail Tuesday afternoon.
Chaka Fattah Jr., 31, is accused of everything from tax fraud to stealing from the Philadelphia School District as part of the wide-ranging indictment unsealed Tuesday. Among other things, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray said Fattah Jr. is accused of diverting money from a federally funded program instead of using those funds for Philadelphia public school students.
“Supplying the school district with false budgets for two school years for the Southwest School, and those figures contained fictitious expenses for the personnel there and some entirely fictitious expenses that we allege cost the school district funds,” Gray said.
Fattah’s company claimed to provide educational consulting and other services for clients and obtained more than $200,000 in loans, according to the indictment.
The charge also claims that Fattah tried to settle defaulted loans for less than what was owed, claiming that he was making a fraction of the income that he really was earning. Finally, he’s charged with filing false income tax returns.
His father, 10-term Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah, said Tuesday he is confident his son will be cleared.
Fattah Jr. was released on bail Tuesday afternoon and proclaimed his innocence outside the federal courthouse.
“I have to take a look at the allegations, I’ve barely had a chance to take a look at the indictment,” he said. “I will say I’m innocent and look forward to my day in court.”
Fattah Jr. signed a statement saying he could not afford an attorney, so a public defender was appointed for him.
That attorney, Ross Thompson, said he was not familiar with the case and refused to elaborate on it to reporters.
Federal authorities have also charged Matthew Amato, 31, of Philadelphia in an information with one count of making false statements to banks, announced U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. According to the information, from July 11 to August 9, 2005, Amato knowingly made false statements to Wachovia Bank, PNC Bank, and Sun National Bank for the purpose of influencing the actions of the banks upon lines of credit for which he had applied.
He allegedly claimed to be the sole proprietor and CEO of Chaka Fattah Jr. & Associates, an existing business entity that previously had earned revenue, and claimed that he would use the proceeds of the commercial loans for the working capital and business purposes of CFJA, as required under the terms of the loans, according to the federal document.
If convicted, Amato faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years imprisonment, five years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
Fattah Jr. faces more than $13 million in fines and a “substantial term of imprisonment” if convicted of all charges.
Fattah Jr.’s arraignment is set for Aug. 14.