After receiving word of a guilty verdict on all charges against him, including racketeering, fraud and money laundering, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah told reporters outside the courtroom that it was “a tough day” for him.
But family members of one of Fattah’s co-defendants, friend Herbert Vederman, had much more to say and expressed disdain with the judgment.
Fattah, along with staffer Bonnie Bowser and Karen Nicholas, who headed Fattah’s non-profit, businessman Robert Brand and Vederman were also found guilty of other different charges. Vederman was found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery, bank fraud, making false statements to the Credit Union Mortgage Association, falsification of records and two counts of money laundering.
Prosecutors allege that Vederman helped support Fattah’s South African nanny by paying her college tuition with bribes in return for Fattah’s political help.
“The fact that my uncle helped Congressman’s Fattah’s offcare [nanny] get a college education; a Black woman from South Africa get a college education, was not bribery,” said Jodi Paisner, Vederman’s neice. “That is something that my uncle had done for the last 30 or 40 years. This is an unfair system and an over aggressive government and over aggressive prosecution. They are going after innocent Americans and they are putting them in jail.”
Vederman’s sister, Cecelia Vederman Diamond, said her brother is a good man.
“I’m very proud of that Vederman,” she said emphasizing her name. “This should have never ever happened. He did everything for other people. His whole life he tried to help people and this is what he got.”
Diamond said there was no reason for her brother to commit bribery, because he didn’t get anything in return.
Paisner said there is not a more “generous, genuine, caring person” than her uncle. Prosecutors argued that throughout the years, Vederman sweetened the Democratic politician in exchange for help in landing an ambassadorship position.
“And for them to say that my uncle wanted to be an ambassador, how much money do you think ambassadors pay in contributions?,” Paisner said. “My uncle was Chaka Fattah’s friend, these were not contributions. If somebody was in need and came to my uncle, my uncle would help them.”
Diamond said she did not know if her brother was going to appeal.
“He felt that Chaka was his friend. My brother always helped a friend,” Diamond added. “This is what he got for being too good.”
Sentencing will take place on Oct. 4.