PHILADELPHIA — Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced Monday to a 10-year prison term by a judge who said he was “astonished” that a veteran legislator would steal government and charity funds to pay his son’s debts and buy a vacation home.

Fattah, a Democrat who was born into a family of black activists in Philadelphia, spent two decades in Congress working on housing, education, gun control and other issues of concern to his mostly poor district. Fattah and his TV anchor wife meanwhile took in more than $500,000 a year.

Yet Fattah’s finances grew increasingly dire after a failed 2007 run for mayor, when he faced new campaign spending limits that led him to take an illegal $1 million loan from a friend. The trouble escalated when the friend called in the debt.

As he awaited his sentence, Fattah told the judge he had mixed emotions: saddened to find himself in court but grateful for the work he was able to do over 37 years as a state and federal lawmaker.

“I’ve helped tens of millions of people,” said Fattah, 60. “(That) has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury.”


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