Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fattah surrenders to begin serving 10-year prison term

Ex-Congressman Chaka Fattah after sentencing - Jessica Griffin Inquirer photo

Jeremy Roebuck reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer

Chaka Fattah's new residence on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest doesn't quite have the charm of the Poconos vacation home he bought in 2012 with help from a $18,000 bribe.
But on Wednesday, the man who represented Philadelphia in Congress for the last two decades moved into a federal prison camp in Lewis Run, McKean County, Pa., to begin serving a 10-year sentence for corruption-related crimes.

Officially, the new abode is known as Federal Correctional Institution-McKean, a medium-security prison with a minimum-security satellite camp, on the New York-Pennsylvania border.

Its 1,200 or so inmates have included Wesley Snipes, who spent two years there for tax evasion, and former Colombo crime family boss Alphonse Persico, who still resides there serving a life sentence.

As Fattah joined their ranks just after 11 a.m., he was assigned a fresh moniker to match his new address: Inmate No. 72340-066.

His arrival put a period on his career as one of the region's most recognizable political names and the scandal that led to his conviction last year of charges including racketeering, bribery, money laundering, and fraud.

Fattah's fate had been forecast since December, when U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III imposed Fattah's sentence, the second longest ever received by a member of Congress, and condemned him for abusing "the trust voters placed in [him] time and time again."

Still, he resisted up until the last minute.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied his request earlier this month to remain free while he challenged his conviction. The White House remained silent on his last-minute bid for a pardon from former president Barack Obama.

Yet in an interview Tuesday with WHYY-FM, Fattah remained upbeat.

"There won't be a day in my life in which I'm not upbeat," he said. "I'm not talking about any unusual or unhealthy sort of enjoyment out of my predicament. That's not my point. My point is that I'm more than capable of dealing with these challenges than most people in our country."

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