Philly taxpayers spent $75,000 on Kenyatta Johnson’s lawyer in federal probe

The city’s Law Department confirmed that it has retained outside lawyers to provide “legal services” to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson related to “an ongoing investigation."

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia taxpayers have shelled out nearly $75,000 to cover City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s legal fees related to a federal investigation over the last year — a bill that is set to climb as the ongoing probe continues to unfold.

PlanPhilly reported Thursday that Fox Rothschild lawyer Patrick Egan is being paid by the city to represent the South Philly councilman in an investigation being conducted by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Andrew Richman, chief of staff to City Solicitor Marcel Pratt, confirmed the current value of the $225-an-hour contract. In an email, Richman said, “$74,302.78 has been paid by the City to Fox Rothschild LLP under this contract to date.”  

The city began paying legal costs for Johnson in August 2018, according to the Law Department.

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Philadelphia’s charter requires it to cover legal costs for officials involved in investigations related to their work — although the city halts those payments if an individual is indicted.

“It’s rooted in the presumption of innocence. Unless someone is found guilty, there is a constitutional presumption he’s innocent,” said former federal prosecutor William DeStefano.

Egan, who specializes in white-collar crime, said Thursday that he is confident his client is innocent.

“We have reviewed the evidence related to that investigation and are confident that the Councilman has done nothing improper, much less illegal,” Egan said. “We are confident that when all information related to the investigation comes to light the Councilman will be vindicated.”

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