- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey testified for the prosecution Thursday in the trial of a congressman accused of trying to land an ambassadorship for a friend in exchange for a bribe.

Casey said he received a letter from Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in 2008, before President Barack Obama took office, asking that lobbyist Herbert Vederman be considered for the post.

“The request was for an ambassadorship,” Casey said. “You don’t get many of those.”

Casey said he did not promote the bid to the White House. Vederman, a one-time Casey donor, later seemed frustrated when nothing came of it, the senator said.

Federal prosecutors accuse Fattah of taking bribes from Vederman to resolve financial problems, largely stemming from the congressman’s failed 2007 bid for Philadelphia mayor. Fattah is also accused of misusing federal grants and nonprofit funds. He denies wrongdoing.

Vederman, a former deputy mayor, is also on trial along with three other Fattah associates who have pleaded not guilty.

Casey said he got about 200 job requests as Obama took office in 2009, perhaps because he had been an early supporter of the Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois.

The indictment alleges that Fattah buttonholed the president about Vederman when he got the chance.

The congressman’s trial began May 16 and is expected to last another month. Fattah is in his 11th term in the House, but he lost the April primary for re-election. His son, Chaka Fattah Jr., is serving a five-year prison term after being convicted in a related case.

Earlier this week, a Drexel University official told jurors that the son ended up $30,000 in arrears on his tuition bill before leaving without a degree. His father is accused of later steering $22,000 in campaign funds to pay down the debt.

Also this week, longtime Fattah campaign consultant Gregory Naylor, who has pleaded guilty in the case, told jurors that he helped falsify campaign finance reports to help cover an illegal $1 million campaign loan for Fattah’s 2007 mayoral bid.

Naylor described how he distributed $200,000 from the loan on Election Day to try to get out the vote. Both Naylor and a second Fattah consultant who has pleaded guilty in the case, Thomas Lindenfeld, await sentencing.

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This story has been corrected to show the Fattah letter was sent before Obama took office, not after.

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