Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, were charged in a wide-ranging federal indictment Wednesday with wire fraud in an alleged bribery scheme under which Johnson would use “councilmanic prerogative” to benefit a Kenny Gamble-founded community development and charter school entity known as Universal Companies.
Gamble is not named in the indictment, but two former top Universal executives, Rahim Islam and Shaheid Dawan, are the primary defendants in the case.
Here is a summary of the key counts that involve Johnson and Chavous.
While neither Johnson nor Chavous is charged with this offense, the indictment alleges Islam and Dawan used Chavous’ consulting company as a “vehicle to disguise bribe payments" for Johnson’s assistance in using “councilmanic prerogative” in drawing up legislation involving rezoning of two Universal-owned properties: the Royal Theater at 1524-34 South St., and 1303-1309 Bainbridge St. Both properties were within Johnson’s 2nd district. The indictment alleges Chavous was paid $66,750 for “very little work.”
These counts charge that Islam, Dawan, Johnson and Chavous, from May 2013 through October 2014, “knowingly devised and participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud and to deprive the citizens of the 2nd District and the citizens of Philadelphia of their right to the honest services of defendant Kenyatta Johnson through bribery.”
The indictment alleges that the defendants “created a bogus consultant relationship” to conceal the $66,750 in bribes to Johnson.
The other charges in the 22-count indictment charge Islam and Dawan with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from Universal and bribing a school official in Milwaukee in an effort to open a second Universal charter school there.
Read the full indictment here: