U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of racketeering conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud, writes the Associated Press.
As we previously reported, the government alleged last month that Fattah was involved in a widespread conspiracy that involved the theft of charitable funds, the illegal use of campaign contributions and bribery.
NPR’s Eyder Peralta explained:
“The charges against Fattah and four other associates stem from Fattah’s failed 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia. According to the indictment, Fattah and his associates allegedly borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter. When he lost, they allegedly returned the unused $400,000 and then arranged for a nonprofit that they controlled to pay out the remaining $600,000.
“That charity, the Educational Advancement Alliance, which was supposed to give at-risk students a better chance at a higher education, received federal grants. To conceal that payment, the indictment alleges that Fattah and others created sham contracts, falsified accounting records, tax returns and finance disclosure statements.”
On Monday, the Philadelphia politician wrote a letter to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees asking for congressional review of his indictment.
In the letter, Fattah suggested that federal prosecutors who charged him used “unconstitutional and unlawful” threats to support their case, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.