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Former rep cites high court ruling in bid to overturn conviction

Former Pennsylvania Democratic representative Chaka Fattah's attorneys intend to apply a critical Supreme Court decision responsible for the overturn of a bribery conviction for the former Virginia governor to Fattah's case, thereby delaying sentencing.

Lawyers requested an acquittal or a new trial on the charges that resulted in a June conviction for 22 counts of conspiracy and bribery.

The federal judge at the hearing to overturn the conviction had some tough questions during September's court appearance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Supreme Court vacated Gov. McDonnell's case only a few days after Fattah got convicted on federal charges of corruption stemming from a scam to pay off campaign debts run up during his failed Philadelphia mayoral campaign.

The case focused on a million-dollar loan to his campaign that was the subject of investigations by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. His convictions were for wire fraud, racketeering and bribery. His indictment also included charges for accepting cash from political operatives in lieu of favors, including ambassador appointments. Attorneys countered that he tried to assist one of his constituents get access to officials in the government.

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision narrowed the scope for what could be construed as official acts. They ruled that talking to officials and arranging meetings were not official acts.

The judge took no action on the request.

The former congressman served for 11 terms before resigning in June, only a couple of days after he was convicted and a couple of months after losing in the primary. He first tried to remain in office until he was sentenced which has yet to be rescheduled.

In the appeal, his attorneys argued the governor had greater potential to sway matters than Fattah. Gov. McDonnell, together with his wife, were indicted because they accepted $175,000 worth of loans and gifts from a man who sold dietary supplements they then promoted at events and arranged meetings.

Federal prosecutors oppose the appeal and counter that the high court's ruling didn't apply.

Source: Roll Call, "Chaka Fattah Seeks to Use McDonnell Case to Overturn Conviction," Rema Rahman, Oct. 04, 2016

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