Court grants delay in Fattah Jr.’s trial

Court grants delay in Fattah Jr.’s trial
Sam Newhouse

The federal corruption trial of charter school consultant Chaka Fattah Jr. won’t be starting Monday as scheduled after an appeals court gave him more time to prepare his defense.

Fattah Jr. is representing himself in the criminal case and faces a maximum total sentence of up to 418 years if convicted.

The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals gave him 20 more days to file additional briefs related to his defense.

“I was preparing to go to trial on Monday,” Fattah Jr. said. “I will now have the opportunity to have a fair hearing on a number of constitutional issues.”

He was indicted last August for allegedly overbilling the cash-strapped Philly public school system while working as a consultant for the Delaware Valley High School, a charter program for at-risk students. He is also accused of defrauding the IRS and filing falsified loan applications to various banks.

Fattah Jr., whose dad is Rep. Chaka Fattah, has denied the charges and called the indictment a “politically motivated” attempt to get at his father, also the subject of a long-running federal probe.

A superseding indictment released by the federal government last week details their case against Fattah Jr.

New court documents say Fattah Jr. contacted the School District to accuse DVHS of inflating their budgets — so that he could set up his own company, to be called Dreamchasers, which would provide services similar to what DVHS did.

“The government is wrong in a number of respects to the whole Dreamchasers concept,” Fattah jr. said. “Whether or I was starting Dreamchasers has nothing to do with the indictment.”

The indictment says that FBI agents determined Fattah Jr. incriminated himself by reporting the inflated budgets at DVHS.

Fattah Jr. insisted after a hearing Wednesday his defense that he was not responsible for the alleged budget inflation by DVHS.

Fattah Jr.’s legal ordeal began in February 2012 after his apartment was raided by federal authorities.

At that point his contract with DVHS, as head of his own company called 259 Consulting, abruptly ended.

“Three years ago I was thrown out in the wilderness,” Fattah Jr. says.

Fattah Jr. said losing work due to the raid, which was photographed by the Inquirer, made him unemployable — leading to his decision to represent himself.

A lawsuit Fattah Jr. filed against the IRS in March 2014 accused them of damaging his reputation by leaking news of the planned raid to the Inquirer. That suit is still pending.