Matt Rourke / APChaka Fattah talks to reporters after leaving the federal courthouse in Philadelphia on June 21, 2016. (Matt Rourke / AP)
Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr. of Pennsylvania was released from a federal prison near Scranton on June 8, more than five years early — and no one is talking about why it happened, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons and Fattah’s attorney, Sam Silver, were tight-lipped when asked why the Democrat from Philadelphia was sent home well before his sentence was completed, the report said.
According to The Inquirer, Fattah appears to be staying with his wife, Renee Chenault-Fattah, at their home in the city’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood.
The couple also declined to comment, according to the outlet.
“The release appears to have been a Bureau of Prisons call,” The Inquirer reported. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office referred all questions its way.”
The outlet said there had been no filings in the court case about Fattah’s release.
Earlier this month, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected Fattah’s second appeal after his hearing in May.
The longtime Democratic congressman took an illegal $1 million loan to support his 2007 run for Philadelphia mayor, Fox News reported. He then attempted to repay that loan in part with NASA grant funds.
Prosecutors also said Fattah used $27,000 in charitable funds to help pay off his son’s college loans and accepted an $18,000 bribe from a friend seeking help in becoming an ambassador, the report said.
He was convicted in 2016 on 22 counts, including fraud, bribery and money laundering, and given a 10-year sentence. It was one of the lengthiest prison terms to date for a member of Congress, and Fattah fought to shorten it.
An appeals court dropped some of the bribery counts against him in 2018, but Fattah’s 10-year sentence was left intact by U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle on July 12, 2019.
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His “flagrant conduct undermines the confidence of the citizenry in the integrity of all public institutions and public officials,” Bartle said. “The cynicism saps the strength of our democracy.”
“Let today serve as a warning to all public officials who allow greed or a thirst for influence to overpower any desire to serve the community honestly,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement at the time.
“If you are a corrupt official, we will investigate and convict you, and we will remain steadfast behind our prosecution until the last appeal is wrapped up and the final proceeding complete,” she said. “Today’s sentencing illustrates the strength of our original case and the need to put Chaka Fattah behind bars for a very long time.”
Yet that “very long time” was greatly reduced, and the reason for that remains a mystery.
The Inquirer said one source theorized that the Democrat’s early release was related to the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons.
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