NBC10 anchorwoman Renee Chenault-Fattah, the embattled wife of indicted congressman Chaka Fattah, says the car sale that federal prosecutors characterize as a sham meant to cover up an $18,000 bribe was legitimate.
Her statement, made in a letter obtained by her employer, comes one day after federal authorities unsealed a 29-count indictment against Fattah and four other people. Prosecutors claimed that Fattah, and lobbyist Herbert Vederman pretended to sell Chenault-Fattah's Porsche Carrera as a way of explaining an $18,000 wire transfer.
“I know this was a legitimate sale, but this is not likely to go away anytime soon,” Chenault-Fattah wrote.
Chenault-Fattah is not charged in the indictment -- she isn't named. But records confirm that she is a witness described as "Person E," in the indictment.
The $18,000 transfer came as the Fattahs were buying a $425,000 vacation home in the Poconos. The bank wanted to know where the $18,000 had come from before closing on a loan to buy the property, according to court documents.
Fattah told the bank that they had sold the Porsche to come up with the money.
Chenault-Fattah remembers the situation differently. In the letter, she says that two weeks before closing on the house, she and Fattah were informed of a new rule that required them to put down an extra $18,000. The cash could not be loan or a gift. She sold the car at book value, she said.
According to the indictment, the Fattahs continued to pay insurance on the vehicle, and had it serviced after the car was sold. Federal agents even saw it in her garage 26 months after the sale occurred.
In the letter to NBC10, Chenault-Fattah wrote that the car stayed at her house because she has three garages, and Vederman lives in an apartment.
"For a time I continued with insuring it since it was in our garage and wanted nothing to happen to it," she wrote, "And I had it towed to be serviced in the spring because I wanted it to be in good shape for the friend since this transaction had happened so hastily in the dead of winter. It has remained undriven in our garage for 3 years now because on advice of counsel ... we were instructed to do nothing with the car.”
Chenault-Fattah is currently on leave from NBC10.