FORMER MAYOR John Street - with his white shock of curly hair, wearing a burnt-orange Izod fleece jacket and a Bluetooth device in his left ear - walked into a federal courtroom Friday as a defense witness in the bank and tax fraud trial of Chaka Fattah Jr.
Fattah, 32, asked Street, 72 - who is a friend of Fattah's father, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr. - about photography work he had done for one of Street's mayoral campaigns.
Street said he recalled Fattah "taking pictures for us" in 2002 and 2003, when Street was running for his second mayoral term.
Asked by Fattah if Street and his campaign staff were satisfied with the photos, Street replied: "I never heard of a complaint."
Street, who was mayor from January 2000 to January 2008, had as part of his campaigns a "Polaroid posse," in which aides took photos of Street with supporters at events and transit stops using Polaroid cameras and film bought by the campaign.
The instantly developed photos were given to supporters.
Fattah asked Street about his "Polaroid posse." He also asked him about a time when Street's campaign had Fattah sell some leftover Polaroid film.
"I wasn't all that directly involved in that," Street said.
Fattah, who is not a lawyer and who didn't graduate college, has been acting as his own attorney in his trial. He has been trying to show through defense witnesses that he had legitimate businesses that did real work and had real business expenses.
Fattah is accused of defrauding several banks, the IRS and the School District of Philadelphia of hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2005 to 2012.
The feds contend he fraudulently obtained business bank loans, then spent much of it on personal expenses to maintain a lavish lifestyle; made false statements to financial institutions and the IRS to settle unpaid debts; and filed false income-tax returns.
Fattah called Street to the stand Friday, and former Gov. Ed Rendell to the stand Thursday, to try to show jurors that he had a legitimate photography business - called FattahGraphy - which he started in 2002.
Under cross-examination, prosecutor Eric Gibson, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, asked Street about Fattah's other businesses. Jurors have heard about Fattah's American Royalty luxury-concierge service, his 259 Strategies consulting company and other ventures.
Street, though, wasn't familiar with some of Fattah's entrepreneurial entities. And his responses elicited a few chuckles from courtroom observers.
He hadn't heard of 259 Strategies.
"Boy Genius?" Gibson asked of another Fattah-created venture.
"Excuse me?" Street said.
"Boy Genius, a company?"
"No," Street replied.
Street said he may have heard of Chaka Fattah, Jr. & Associates.
"Did Mr. Fattah ever try to sell to you concierge services?" Gibson asked.
"Hmmm?" Street asked, his voice rising, not understanding what Gibson meant.
"What's that?" Street asked.
Gibson asked if Street ever got a seat on a private jet from one of Fattah's companies.
"Let me think about that," the former mayor replied, a bit in jest. The answer was obviously no.
"Any vacations to European resorts?" Gibson asked.
"It's getting harder," Street replied, again in jest.
After 15 minutes on the witness stand, Street left the courtroom. He told reporters he came to testify because Fattah asked him.
Of Fattah's photography work more than 10 years ago, Street said: "He just seemed like a really nice young guy getting into the photography business. He had all these fancy cameras."
Street said Fattah had taken photos at campaign events, but was not sure if Fattah had been hired by the campaign or if he had worked as a subcontractor for Lana Felton-Ghee, who was Street's campaign manager and who passed away two years ago.
Fattah also called to the witness stand the lead FBI investigator in his case, Special Agent Richard Haag, who previously testified in the prosecution's case.
While Fattah asked him questions about Fattah's businesses, including FattahGraphy, and whether Haag had investigated to see if items listed on a 2004 tax return were legitimate business revenue and expenses, Haag testified: "We believe at some point FattahGraphy existed and took pictures and may have had revenue." But, he said, "that's not the issue" in the trial.
Haag said Fattah's 2004 income-tax return listed false revenue and expenses and was used "as an instrument of bank fraud" by Fattah to get 2005 bank loans.
"It's clear to me you used these loan proceeds to live off of them," while having some business expenses for the concierge service, Haag said.
The feds contend Fattah used the business bank loans mostly for personal expenses, including making car payments, dining at restaurants, ordering pizza and buying clothes and electronics.
The trial ended late Friday morning. U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III told jurors the defense didn't have more witnesses Friday, but is expected to have more Monday. He said jury deliberations could begin Tuesday.
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