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Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's campaign manager sent to prison

He stole from her campaign account and now is cooperating with investigators

JOHN McDANIEL, former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was sentenced yesterday to one year in federal prison for stealing more than $100,000 from her campaign account.

McDaniel, according to documents filed in the case, has cooperated in local and federal investigations since his indictment in February. The question left unanswered: What did that cooperation entail?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray declined to comment after the hearing about a letter he filed under seal with the judge.

McDaniel's attorney, Charles Gibbs, on Saturday submitted to the judge a sentencing memorandum that said McDaniel "has cooperated fully with both local and federal authorities, as evidenced by the U.S. Attorney's letter which was filed under seal."

Gray and Gibbs made brief mentions of the letter during the hearing, but declined an offer from U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin to discuss the letter further in a sidebar conversation.

McLaughlin rejected a request for a sentence of home confinement for McDaniel, who pleaded guilty on Feb. 14 to a single count of wire fraud.

"People who act in the political arena, who have positions of trust, they have to understand that if they abuse it, consequences will come," said McLaughlin, who is allowing McDaniel to report to prison on July 15.

Brown declined to comment yesterday on McDaniel's sentence. "That was a difficult chapter in my life, one that I have put behind me," she said.

McDaniel's official sentence is 12 months and one day, a term that prompted gasps from family and friends, but is shorter than the 15 to 21 months he could've gotten under federal sentencing guidelines. He must also serve two years of supervised release and pay restitution of $103,650.

Brown reported having missed her campaign fund in March 2012 to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, which found that McDaniel used a bogus expense to disguise the repayment of a $3,300 personal loan from her political-action committee from Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr.

Brown, in a settlement with the Board of Ethics, admitted to dozens of problems with her campaign-finance reports, including putting contributions into her personal bank account.

Her disclosure to the Board of Ethics came one month after the FBI raided the homes and offices of Fattah, the son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Brown's political mentor. Federal investigators have been asking about Chip Fattah's finances for at least 13 months.

The Inquirer on Sunday reported that the congressman had asked former Gov. Ed Rendell and former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. to start a fund to help pay his son's legal bills.

McDaniel was also a paid consultant in 2011 for Mayor Nutter's re-election campaign. Nutter then hired McDaniel in 2012 for a new $87,125-per-year job managing volunteers at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Nutter fired McDaniel earlier this year after learning that he had continued to work for another political-action committee, violating the city's ban on political activity for employees.

McDaniel was fired from a city job by then-Mayor John Street in 2005 for violating the same ban.