Chaka Fattah Jr., the indicted son of an indicted congressman, told a jury on Friday that the government’s investigation against him was full of holes and that he would prove himself innocent.
Fattah, 32, wasn’t on the stand. He was acting as his own lawyer.
Opening arguments began Friday in the case against a former educational consultant, photographer and entrepreneur who is accused of funding lavish personal lifestyle by lying to banks, ripping of the School District of Philadelphia and skirting taxes.
Fattah’s ex-girlfriend, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray told jurors, was prepared to testify that Fattah’s interests were “clubs, restaurants and clothes. Taxes, not so much.”
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Gray said that Fattah moved into a $600,000 luxury condo at the Ritz Carlton while telling a bank that his business didn’t have income.
Fattah, however, said that he worked hard to get a school for disadvantaged youth up and running.
“I worked day and night while other employees were on vacation,” Fattah Jr. said, “sometimes out of the country.”
The lavish spending, the gambling, the luxury cars? Those, Fattah said, were legitimate expenses related to finding clients for a concierge business focused on helping wealthy people get exclusive restraurant reservations and book travel.
“Nobody can say you can’t have a party,” Fattah said.
Throughout opening arguments, Fattah’s father, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr. sat in the courtroom with his wife, NBC10 news anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, at some points smiling as his son explained his case to jurors.
“I’m very proud of my son, yesterday, today and everyday,” the congressman said during a break in the proceedings.
Rep. Fattah, was charged in August with Fattah with accepting bribes, using federal funds to repay campaign debts and using campaign contributions to pay his son's student loan debts.
He has long said that the charges against him are the result of a long-standing investigation by overzealous prosecutors, including Gray who is handling both cases.
“Next week, I’m going to provide information publicly to show that Mr. Gray has for eight years been improperly and illegally taking action against me and my son,” the congressman said.