United States v. Fattah, 080918 FED3, 16-4397

Docket Nº:16-4397, 16-4410, 16-4411, 16-4427, 17-1346
Opinion Judge:SMITH, CHIEF JUDGE.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Appellant in 17-1346 v. CHAKA FATTAH, SR., Appellant in 16-4397 KAREN NICHOLAS, Appellant in 16-4410 ROBERT BRAND, Appellant in 16-4411 HERBERT VEDERMAN, Appellant in 16-4427
Attorney:Andrea G. Foulkes Eric L. Gibson Paul L. Gray Robert A. Zauzmer Office of United States Attorney Jonathan Ian Kravis [ARGUED] United States Department of Justice Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section Counsel for the United States Mark M. Lee Bruce P. Merenstein [ARGUED] Samuel W. Silver Sch...
Judge Panel:Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, GREENAWAY, JR., and KRAUSE, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 09, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Appellant in 17-1346

v.

CHAKA FATTAH, SR., Appellant in 16-4397

KAREN NICHOLAS, Appellant in 16-4410

ROBERT BRAND, Appellant in 16-4411

HERBERT VEDERMAN, Appellant in 16-4427

Nos. 16-4397, 16-4410, 16-4411, 16-4427, 17-1346

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

August 9, 2018

Argued January 18, 2018

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania District Court Nos. 2-15-cr-00346-001, 2-15-cr-00346-002, 2-15-cr-00346-003, 2-15-cr-00346-004 District Judge: The Honorable Harvey Bartle III

Andrea G. Foulkes Eric L. Gibson Paul L. Gray Robert A. Zauzmer Office of United States Attorney Jonathan Ian Kravis [ARGUED] United States Department of Justice Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section Counsel for the United States

Mark M. Lee Bruce P. Merenstein [ARGUED] Samuel W. Silver Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis Counsel for Appellant Fattah

Ann C. Flannery [ARGUED] Counsel for Appellant Nicholas Alan Silber Pashman Stein Walder Counsel for National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Amicus Appellant Nicholas

Mira E. Baylson Barry Gross [ARGUED] Meredith C. Slawe Drinker Biddle & Reath Counsel for Appellant Brand

Henry W. Asbill Buckley Sandler Glen D. Nager [ARGUED] Jacob M. Roth Julia W. M. F. Sheketoff Jones Counsel for Appellant Vederman

Before: SMITH, Chief Judge, GREENAWAY, JR., and KRAUSE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SMITH, CHIEF JUDGE.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction .......................................................................... 7

II. Background ......................................................................... 7

A. The Fattah for Mayor Scheme ........................................ 8

1. The Lord Loan and Its Repayment .............................. 8

2. The College Tuition Component of the FFM Scheme ...................................................................... 23

3. The NOAA Grant and the Phantom Conference ....... 24

B. The Blue Guardians Scheme ........................................ 26

C. The Fattah-Vederman Bribery Scheme ....................... 28

D. The Indictment and Trial .............................................. 34

III. Juror Misconduct and Dismissal of Juror 12 ................... 50

A. Investigation of Alleged Juror Misconduct .................. 50

B. Dismissal of Juror 12 .................................................... 55

IV. The District Court's Instructions Under McDonnell ...... 60

A. The McDonnell Framework ......................................... 61

B. The Kirk Meeting ......................................................... 65

C. Fattah's Efforts to Secure Vederman an Ambassadorship ................................................................ 68

D. The Zionts Hiring ......................................................... 70

E. Vederman's Sufficiency Challenge to Counts 16-18 and 22-23 ................................................................................. 76

F. Blue Guardians .............................................................. 79

V. Sufficiency of the Evidence for the RICO Conspiracy Conviction ............................................................................. 82

VI. Variance from the Indictment and Sufficiency of the Evidence for Count 2 ............................................................. 95

VII. The District Court's Instruction to the Jury on the Meaning of Intent ................................................................ 103

VIII. Sending the Indictment to the Jury ............................. 108

IX. The District Court's Evidentiary Rulings ..................... 111

A. The District Court's Application of Rule 404(b) ....... 111

B. Evidentiary Rulings Regarding Nicholas's Defense .. 115

1. The EAA Board Minutes ......................................... 115

2. Jones' Memory Regarding Other Contracts ............ 118

3. Exclusion of NOAA Evidence ................................ 118

C. The Cooperating Witness's Mental Health Records .. 119

1. The District Court's Denial of Access to the Mental Health Records ........................................................ 121

2. The District Court's Grant of the Motion in Limine ..................................................................... 123

X. The Government's Cross-Appeal ................................... 127

A. CUMA is a Mortgage Lending Business ................... 128

B. Sufficiency of the Evidence ........................................ 134

XI. Prejudicial Spillover ...................................................... 136

A. Fattah's Claim of Prejudicial Spillover ...................... 137

B. Vederman's Assertion of Prejudicial Spillover .......... 139

XII. Conclusion ................................................................... 142

I. Introduction

Chaka Fattah, Sr., a powerful and prominent fixture in Philadelphia politics, financially overextended himself in both his personal life and his professional career during an ultimately unsuccessful run for mayor. Fattah received a substantial illicit loan to his mayoral campaign and used his political influence and personal connections to engage friends, employees, and others in an elaborate series of schemes aimed at preserving his political status by hiding the source of the illicit loan and its repayment. In so doing, Fattah and his allies engaged in shady and, at times, illegal behavior, including the misuse of federal grant money and federal appropriations, the siphoning of money from nonprofit organizations to pay campaign debts, and the misappropriation of campaign funds to pay personal obligations.

Based upon their actions, Fattah and four of his associates-Herbert Vederman, Robert Brand, Bonnie Bowser, and Karen Nicholas-were charged with numerous criminal acts in a twenty-nine count indictment. After a jury trial, each was convicted on multiple counts. All but Bowser appealed. As we explain below, the District Court's judgment will be affirmed in part and reversed in part.

II. Background[1]

During the 1980s and '90s, Fattah served in both houses of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, first as a member of the House of Representatives and later as a Senator. In 1995, Fattah was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Pennsylvania's Second Congressional District. In 2006, Fattah launched an unsuccessful run for Mayor of Philadelphia, setting in motion the events that would lead to his criminal conviction and resignation from Congress ten years later.

A. The Fattah for Mayor Scheme

Fattah declared his candidacy for mayor in November of 2006. Thomas Lindenfeld, a political consultant on Fattah's exploratory committee, believed that "[a]t the beginning of the campaign, [Fattah] was a considerable . . . candidate and somebody who had a very likely chance of success." JA1618. But Fattah's campaign soon began to experience difficulties, particularly with fundraising. Philadelphia had adopted its first-ever campaign contribution limits, which limited contributions to $2, 500 from individuals and $10, 000 from political action committees and certain types of business organizations. Fattah's fundraising difficulties led him to seek a substantial loan, far in excess of the new contribution limits.

1. The Lord Loan and Its Repayment

While serving in Congress, Fattah became acquainted with Albert Lord, II. The two first met around 1998, when Lord was a member of the Board of Directors of Sallie Mae.

As the May 15, 2007 primary date for the Philadelphia mayoral race approached, Fattah met Lord to ask for assistance, telling Lord that the Fattah for Mayor (FFM) campaign was running low on funds. Fattah asked Lord to meet with Thomas Lindenfeld, a political consultant in Washington, D.C., and part-owner of LSG Strategies, Inc. (Strategies), a company that was working with the FFM campaign and that specialized in direct voter contact initiatives. Lindenfeld had been part of the exploratory group that initially considered Fattah's viability as a candidate for mayor. Lindenfeld had known Fattah since 1999, when Fattah endorsed Philadelphia Mayor John Street. Through Fattah, Lindenfeld had also gotten to know several of Fattah's associates, including Herbert Vederman, Robert Brand, and Bonnie Bowser. Herbert Vederman, a businessman and former state official, was the...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP