The day after U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s re-election, there’s another guilty plea in a political corruption case that federal prosecutors say involves the Philadelphia congressman.
Political consultant Tom Lindenfeld, who’s worked on several of Fattah’s campaigns in the past, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against others in the case if asked.
Fattah has not been charged in the case that stems from his unsuccessful run for mayor in 2007.
But, for the second time, a political consultant with ties to Fattah has pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme the congressman allegedly orchestrated with others to steal charitable and federal grant funds to repay an illegal campaign loan.
In August, it was Gregory Naylor, a political field consultant and former chief of staff to Fattah, who pleaded guilty.
Now Lindenfeld, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant, has pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme. And there’s a new twist: In a court filing, prosecutors say to repay Lindendfeld for his participation in the theft involving the loan repayment and to cover a campaign debt to Lindenfeld, Fattah used his position to secure a $500,000 federal grant for an environmental group Lindenfeld was creating.
Prosecutors say the federal agency awarding the money, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, became suspicious the grant was a political payoff, and the group never got any of the cash.
Fattah issued the following statement about Lindenfeld’s plea:
“In light of today’s news, it is disappointing that a second individual associated with me has pleaded guilty to wrongdoing. I spent today thanking the citizens of my district for their vote of confidence. Those citizens can be assured that as I previously stated, I have never been involved in any illegal conduct nor misappropriation of taxpayer funds.”
I’ve known Lindenfeld for years, and spoken to him occasionally about Philadelphia politics, particularly field operations in the city’s African-American wards, which were his specialty.
He didn’t return my call on the guilty plea, but a spokeswoman emailed this statement: “Tom takes full responsibility for his actions and regrets participating in illegal activity. He did not profit from this activity. He has and is cooperating fully with the government.”