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Fattah joins long line of disgraced pols

Philadelphia residents are all-too-familiar with having an elected official get indicted.

Vince Fumo. ( Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer )
Vince Fumo. ( Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer )Read more

YOU PROBABLY could use a lot of adjectives to describe the 29-count indictment that U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was hit with yesterday, but "shocking" isn't one of 'em.

For one thing, it was widely known that federal investigators had spent much of the last eight years probing Fattah's finances, lending an air of inevitability to the whole thing.

The charges he's facing - racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, falsification of records - are the kind that can earn a guy an extended stay at a federal penitentiary to be named later.

But maybe Philadelphians are a little numb to this sort of stuff. Fattah, after all, is just the latest in a long line of Philly politicians to end up on the wrong end of a criminal investigation.

David Thornburgh, president of the Committee of Seventy, said he hopes city residents aren't apathetic about this latest round of alleged political corruption.

"I think people do have a higher standard and greater, elevated expectations for public officials," he said.

The Fattah indictment certainly calls to mind a host of local political scandals. We don't have enough space to recap them all, but here are some recent ones:

* Longtime state Reps. Ron Waters, Vanessa Lowery Brown, Louise Bishop, Michelle Brownlee and Harold James were locked up within the last seven months by the District Attorney's Office on bribery charges in connection with an undercover sting operation that famously was rejected by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

* Former state Rep. J.P. Miranda and his sister, Michelle Wilson, were charged by a Philadelphia grand jury in 2014 with felony counts of perjury, conspiracy and conflict of interest for having a "ghost employee" on the state payroll.

* Nine Traffic Court judges, a strip-club owner, a businessman and a former Traffic Court employee were federally indicted in 2013 as part of an investigation into a long-running practice of judges fixing tickets for ward leaders and Democratic City Committee cronies.

* Infamously powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo saw his career toppled by a 139-count federal indictment in 2008. He was sentenced to 55 months in prison on fraud and obstruction-of-justice charges.

* In the early 1980s, the notorious Abscam scandal brought down the careers of Philadelphia City Councilmen George Schwartz, Harry Jannotti and Louis Johanson, U.S. Rep Michael "Ozzie" Myers and several other pols, and later served as fodder for the movie "American Hustle."