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Philadelphia congressman indicted in racketeering scheme

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was indicted Wednesday on racketeering charges tied to a host of campaign finance schemes, according to the Department of Justice.

The Philadelphia Democrat who was first elected to Congress in 1994 and serves on the influential House Appropriations Committee faces 29 charges, many stemming from his 2007 campaign for mayor.

The 85-page indictment accuses Fattah and four associates who also face charges of devising a series of schemes to conceal how money was borrowed and repaid, falsifying documents in the process.

“As charged in the indictment, Congressman Fattah and his associates embarked on a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement.

CNN has reached out to Fattah’s congressional office for his response to the indictment.

The Justice Department says that during his failed 2007 campaign for the Philadelphia mayor’s office, Fattah borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter and then used an education nonprofit he founded to repay much of that money, using charitable donations and grant funds — and then concealed the scheme through sham contracts, tax returns and campaign finance documents.

Prosecutors also said Fattah arranged to retire $130,000 in campaign debt owed to a political consultant by helping that consultant seek much more in grant funding.

Fattah, prosecutors say, used congressional and mayoral campaign money to repay $23,000 of his son’s student loan debt between 2007 and 2011.

In exchange for $18,000, disguised as a payment for a car sale that didn’t actually take place, Fattah allegedly lobbied the White House and Congress for an ambassadorship or U.S. Trade Commission appointment for lobbyist Herbert Vederman.

“The public expects their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity,” U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger said in a statement. “By misusing campaign funds, misappropriating government funds, accepting bribes, and committing bank fraud, as alleged in the Indictment, Congressman Fattah and his co-conspirators have betrayed the public trust and undermined faith in government.”

U.S. attorneys said that Fattah was not in custody. While Fattah voted Tuesday, it was unclear if he was on the Hill on Wednesday morning.

CNN’s Deirdre Walsh and Evan Perez contributed to this report.