Philadelphia councilman, wife acquitted of fraud charges

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia City Council member and his wife have been acquitted of corruption charges in federal court.

Jurors deliberated for five days before finding Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, not guilty Wednesday in their second trial on honest services wire fraud charges.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that as the jury’s decision was announced, Johnson cradled his face in relief and Chavous embraced her attorney, then collapsed on the defense table in sobs. Outside the courtroom, Johnson thanked supporters “for their prayers and their emails and their showing up to court and believing in us.”

“I’m looking forward to getting back to addressing the issue of gun violence here in the city of Philadelphia, and most importantly representing my constituents,” he told reporters.

Earlier this year, a mistrial was declared in their first trial when jurors were unable to reach agreement after about 25 hours of deliberations over four days.

Johnson, a Democrat who has served on the council since 2012, was accused of engaging in official actions in exchange for payments. Chavous was accused of having entered into a “sham” consulting agreement with a nonprofit that was used to funnel payments to her husband.

Defense attorneys said prosecutors lacked evidence to support their case, defending the work of Chavous as legitimate and saying it had nothing to do with Johnson’s actions on the council.

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