Philadelphia has slapped Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. with a $31,434 lien for unpaid business-privilege taxes, the latest troubles for the congressman's son since the FBI's raid on his office in February.
Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson said the lien, filed June 14, could enable the city to freeze the younger Fattah's bank accounts or block the sale of any real estate he owns until he pays.
The filing says Fattah owes taxes, penalties, and interest for failing to pay the 6.45 percent business-privilege levy in 2010 and 2011. He also owes $137 for a separate city tax.
Ronald Sarachan, a lawyer representing Fattah, said he had no comment about the city action.
The lien did not state the name of business Fattah operated, but lists the address of his apartment at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Fattah lists the apartment address for his company, 259 Strategies LLC.
In March, United Bank of Philadelphia filed suit against Fattah and 259 Strategies, saying it was owed $70,591 for an unpaid loan.
Bank records show that loan was secured by a $450,000 consulting contract given to 259 Strategies by Delaware Valley High School, a company that runs alternative-education programs in Philadelphia and provided Fattah with an office.
Fattah abruptly left Delaware Valley after FBI agents delivered a subpoena for records from the office on Feb. 29, carting off boxes of documents.
Delaware Valley's president, David T. Shulick, has said the agents told him their investigation was focused only on Fattah - not the school.
Richardson said his office's decision to file the lien predated the FBI raid. From start to finish, the research and preparation for filing of liens can take several months, he said.
Rep. Fattah, the top Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee, backed Delaware Valley's unsuccessful attempt to secure $375,000 in federal funds for environmentally friendly student buses.
The congressman, who represented Philadelphia since 1995, said the school received no special treatment. Its request and 29 others that his staff received were forwarded to the congressional committee considering the funding, he said in a statement. No funding was granted for the Delaware Valley request.
The FBI's investigation of Fattah Jr. is a spinoff from last year's conviction of Philadelphia lawyer Mikel Jones, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.).
Documents from the criminal case show that Jones told FBI agents that he had hired 259 Strategies and another company run by Fattah - American Royalty, a concierge-type service.
An FBI memo on the interview said agents questioned Jones about $90,000 he paid to Fattah's firms. But it said Jones, who is awaiting sentencing, could not give specifics on the work Fattah did.
"Was it a good investment, strictly speaking? No," the memo quoted Jones as saying. "But I was desperate and he had access." It gave no details on the supposed access.
In an interview with The Inquirer last year, Fattah said his work for Jones had nothing to do with providing access to his father or anyone else.