Jury selection begins today in the federal corruption trial of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia.
A noted defense lawyer said he thinks the trial’s outcome will surprise many.
Defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr., who is not involved in the case, said he doesn’t think the federal government has a strong argument against Fattah. Fattah is accused of misusing federal funds to repay an illegal campaign loan that he allegedly took during his 2007 campaign for Philadelphia mayor.
“The things he’s accused of doing are more of ethics and not of crimes, and I think he’s going to be acquitted,” Peruto said.
Peruto, however, said Fattah would fare better if he were tried in state court instead of U.S. court.
“No one wants to talk about race, but, in reality, when he’s in federal court, he’s black and you have the 11 county area,” Peruto said. “He doesn’t have the advantage he would have in Philadelphia … it’s just a fact of life, and every good lawyer would tell you that.”
Last week, Fattah lost the Democratic primary, so even if he prevails in court, he will not return to Congress in 2017. State Rep. Dwight Evans won the primary that also featured Dan Muroff and Brian Gordon.
For most of his 11-term tenure in Congress, Fattah faced token or no opposition.
While jury selection begins Monday, opening statements are scheduled for May 16.