John McDaniel, former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was sentenced this afternoon to one year and a day in federal prison for stealing more than $100,000 from her political action committee.
McDaniel, according to documents filed in the case, has cooperated in local and federal investigations since his indictment in February. The question left unanswered in court: What did that cooperation entail?
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray declined to comment after the hearing about a letter he filed under seal in the case last Wednesday.
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. They declined an offer from U.S. District Justice Mary McLaughlin to discuss the letter further in a private sidebar conversation.
McLaughlin rejected a request for a sentence of home confinement from 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.
McDaniel’s official sentence is 12 months and 1 day, a term that prompted gasps from family and friends but is shorter than the 15 to 21 months he was eligible for under federal sentencing guidelines. He must also serve two years of supervised release and pay restitution of $103,650.
Brown reported herself to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics in March 2012 after 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 Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday reported that the congressman asked former Gov. Ed Rendell and former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. to start a legal defense 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 do work for a political action committee funded by the Laborers District Council, violating a city ban on political activity for employees. McDaniel was fired by then-Mayor John Street in 2005 for violating the same ban.