Stanley Brand Quoted in Law360 on Indictment of Rep. Chaka Fattah
Stanley Brand, senior counsel in the litigation practice at Akin Gump, is quoted in the Law360 article “DOJ Faces Uphill Battle In Fattah Corruption Case” regarding an indictment against Rep. Chaka Fattah for allegedly misappropriating federal funds and charitable donations.
Fattah, a 10-term congressman, is accused of orchestrating a series of corrupt schemes, including efforts to pay off more than $1 million in illegal loans to his failed bid for mayor of Philadelphia. Brand, who formerly served as general counsel to the House of Representatives, said it could be a tough case for prosecutors: “You can’t tell from the face of the indictment whether the case is triable or not because it depends on the quality of the evidence and the witnesses and how this all holds up under scrutiny and cross-examination. I understand the magnitude of the charges but, as they say in the South, even a thin pancake has two sides.”
Brand indicated that one key for the prosecution to win the case would be its ability to present live witnesses to testify to Fattah’s personal knowledge and involvement in the scheme. Usually, he said, “it goes to whether these charges by the government are credible and having live witnesses to back them up.” He added that the prosecution will likely seek to “get lower-downs to plead and then turn them into witnesses at trial” against Fattah.
Regarding pretrial litigation, Brand thinks it will likely focus in part on whether Fattah’s efforts to steer federal funds to an alleged phony environmental education and preservation entity fell under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which immunizes members of Congress for legislative acts. “Actions he took within the committee and actions to pass legislation,” Brand said, “would be privileged and inadmissible.”