City Hall Corruption Trial Focuses On Pricey Apartment

The opening testimony in the federal corruption trial of Chris Wright, City Councilman Jack Kelly's former chief of staff and four of his political allies, has focused on allegations that Wright was bribed in part with a rent-free apartment and parking space near Rittenhouse square.  Prosecutors say that was worth more than $15,000.

The building was one of one of nine buildings Ravinder Chawla had a contract to buy in 2006. He “flipped” those properties at the last minute to another company, taking a profit as the middleman in the deal.  Before that happened, prosecutors say, Chawla and his attorney, Andrew Teitelman, struck a deal with the owner to let Wright move in to the building.

Defense attorneys claim the apartment was “a dump” with no heat and a rodent problem.  And they insist Chawla never owned the building.  Prosecutors call it a “very livable apartment in a premiere neighborhood” of the city. They're trying to show that Chawla had some control of the property for a crucial period when Wright moved in.

The new owner sued Wright for living there without paying rent. Teitelman’s law firm represented Wright in that legal action.  So far, we've heard from the guy who sold the property, his property manager, his attorney and the investor who ultimately bought the building.